Penrith have continued Newcastle’s nightmare start to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW with a 28-16 win at Hunter Stadium.
Newcastle had opportunities late in the second half to hit the front, whilst Penrith made the most of theirs.
Penrith went on the attack right from the kick off and earned an extra set in Knights territory. From there, the Panthers spread the ball left and scored in the corner thanks to Malakai Watene-Zelezniak. The conversion was unsuccessful but Penrith enjoyed a 4-nil lead after four minutes.
Newcastle had a chance to hit back shortly after but were held up close to the line.
It was all Penrith early on, with their big men making easy metres up the middle and with Tyrone Peachey putting his influence on the game. Another worry for the Knights was their right-side defence and the Panthers were exploiting this on every occasion.
The Knights had done well considering the amount of defence they had to do, but eventually the work load took its toll. Panthers skipper Zach Docker-Clay went in for the visitors' second try after a good break made by hooker Sione Katoa. Josh Hall converted and it was 10-nil to the Panthers after 20 minutes.
To the Knights' credit, they hung in there and soon had their first try through Lachlan Fitzgibbon. Bryce Donovan missed the conversion but the Knights were back in the contest at 10-4.
There was a slight momentum swing to the Knights gaining repeat sets in the Penrith half. Newcastle soon had their second try thanks to Dean Kouka-Smith which was converted by Donovan to look it up at 10-all.
Almost immediately Penrith hit back, with Watene-Zelezniak chasing through a kick to put it down inches from the dead ball line. Hall added the extras and Penrith were back in front 16-10.
It was an interesting half, with each side dominating at periods, but Penrith were just better and deserved their lead at the break.
Newcastle almost opened the second half in the best possible style only for Luke Yates to be called back for an obstruction.
Moments later though, the Knights did manage to post their third of the day thanks to Bryce Donovan. The play almost broke three times with James Elias making the initial break linking with Ken Tofilau. Elias backed up and found Donovan running straight. Donovan converted his own try to lock it up at 16-all.
Newcastle had began the second half much stronger than Penrith, and although they managed to level, they just couldn’t get that last pass to stick.
Penrith had dodge a couple of bullets and regrouped to build an attacking raid of their own, forcing a repeat set of six. On that set, Watene-Zelezniak was the man on the spot to collect his hat-trick and put his Panthers back in front. Hall again added the extras for Penrith to lead by six with 20 minutes to play.
A minute later Penrith were back in enemy territory and Tyrone Peachey crossed to extend the Panthers lead. Hall converted and the margin was 12.
Penrith had done well to weather the early second half storm and were now well on top.
Heading into the final 10 minutes, Newcastle needed a spark but every time something looked promising a handling error would cost them.
Penrith had enough to take the two points and collect their third win of the season with a good performance in warm conditions, running out winners 28-16
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