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Panthers NSW Cup side hasn’t started the season the way they would have liked, going down 24-14 to Newcastle at Sportingbet Stadium.

Although the scoreboard reflected a Newcastle win, coach Garth Brennan will be able to take some positive notes away from the match to work on for round two. For a team made up of players who haven’t really played together before, we defended well, we put some good plays into motion, and made some very good attempts at our line. Obviously, we got sloppy in a few areas, but we have something we can definitely build on.

Here’s how today’s match played out.

It didn’t start too well for the home side who let the Knights get away with two early tries. Newcastle dominated possession early and Penrith was a little sloppy with their formation, which saw the Knights #5 cross in the left corner for the first points of the day. After some ball juggling and potentially forward pass, Chanel Mata’utia scooted behind our defenders and got the ball down near the corner post. The kick missed and the visitors took a 4-0 lead.

The Panthers were struggling to find any momentum and the Knights were all over them in their own half. It wasn’t long before they crossed again up the left side. Five-eighth Tyler Randell lobbed a kick over everyone’s heads before Chanel Mata’utia caught it mid-air, before planting it down for his second try of the day. This time the conversion was good and Newcastle extended their lead to 10-0, 15 minutes in.

Slowly but surely Penrith were finding their feet. It was winger Eddie Aiono who gave us our first glimmer of hope, after getting us up to our line and almost burrowing his way over. He was pulled up just short of the line near the corner post.

We finally got what we came for in the next play! We sent the ball right through several players, before Nathan Smith gave it to Will Smith, who danced around a couple of Knights defenders and skipped over the line just right of the posts. He tried to convert his own try but missed, so the score went to 10-4.

A few minutes later we went over again. The ball went wide to the left, over everyone’s heads to where Aiono was waiting. He plucked it out of the air and sprinted to the line, diving over just before being tackled. Smith’s sideline conversion was good, which levelled the scores at 10-10.

For the rest of the half both sides had decent attempts at their own line but couldn’t break through, so the scores remained locked going into the half time break.

HALF TIME: 10-10

The second half began like the first, the Newcastle the first to put points on the board. 4 minutes in, halfback Matt Minto put a grubber kick to the in-goal, both teams had players chasing, but it was Chanel’s brother Pat Mata’utia who beat everyone and managed to ground the ball before it went dead. The conversion missed, to the visitors took a 14-10 lead.

They had their second try of the half 5 minutes later courtesy of a Panthers mistake. A ball fumble by Penrith saw Newcastle take possession, they got the ball out wide to Pat Mata’utia who flicked it beautifully to winger Josh Mantellato who crossed near the corner post. The sideline conversion was off target, but the Knights had extended their lead to 18-10, with 30 minutes on the clock.

The Panthers may have been behind on the scoreboard, but they were certainly giving it everything they had in attack. For the next 10 minutes, Penrith hammered away at their line, dominating possession and coming very close to scoring on several occasions, but they just couldn’t break through.

The Knights on the other hand, made the most of their time with the ball, and with 19 minutes on the clock the Minto-Mata’utia combo bagged them another try. Minto’s kick found Chanel Mata’utia right on the sideline, and he dived over, taking the corner post with him. The kick was good so Newcastle took a 24-10 lead.

The Panthers managed to hold the Knights out for the rest of the match, and managed one more try of their own. It came through Tom Eisenhuth in the 68th minute, who side stepped a few defenders and ran over virtually unopposed. Smith missed the conversion, so the score went to 24-14.

For the remaining 10 minutes, Newcastle dominated possession and controlled the game. Five-eighth Isaac John made one last desperate attempt for another try, with a kick through to Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on the wing, but a bad bounce saw it head into touch.

FULL TIME: 24-14

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.