The Panthers have overcome a spirited performance from Newcastle to secure a 32-10 victory at Hunter Stadium this afternoon.
Defence was brilliant and we didn’t give Newcastle much of a chance to get near their line, and despite a few mistakes with handling, Ivan and the boys should be pretty happy with their performance.
Before kickoff, Kevin Kingston was ruled out of the match with a foot injury so James Segeyaro was moved into the starting side to cover him at hooker and Isaah Yeo was called up to fill the spot on the bench. We lost Nigel Plum to concussion midway through the first half, but the rest of the team pulled together to get the win.
The home side was first to put points on the board five minutes into the match, when Jarrod Mullen sent the ball left to Joey Leilua, who flicked it to James McManus on the wing, who was able to dive over in the corner and score. Kurt Gidley missed the conversion so the Knights took a 4-0 lead.
But the Panthers hit back a few minutes later when Dave Simmons pulled off the same manoeuvre and bagged us four points. The sideline conversion attempt by Jamie Soward was waved away, so the scores were level at 4-4 with 10 minutes gone.
It was about this time that the rain started to fall, lightly at first before the heavens opened up onto the thousands who’d turned out at Hunter Stadium to watch.
In the 18th minute the Panthers got their next try after some confusion in the in-goal. Peter Wallace put a grubber kick over our goal line and Matt Moylan chased it and managed to bat it back into the field of play before it went dead. A Knights player picked it up but tried to play it when he came under pressure, and the ball ended up in some open space where Moylan ran back in and planted it down. Sowie’s kick was right on target this time and the Panthers took the lead 10-4.
We almost backed that up a couple of minutes later when Moylan found some space and took off down the field before being brought down on the 20m. The ball eventually ended up in Tyrone Peachey’s hands and he ran it up and over the line but was held up.
Play was stopped in the 25th minute when Nigel Plum was knocked out after crashing into the shoulder of Jarrod Mullen. He had to be stretchered from the field and did not return, and Newcastle were handed the ball. Plummy was also placed on report for the hit.
They scored their next try off the following set of six, when Dane Gagai slid over the line, taking several Panthers players with him. Gidley’s kick went straight through the posts, and the score drew level at 10-10.
With just under 10 minutes until the half time break, Jamie Soward put another 6 points on the board for the Panthers after dodging a couple of defenders inside the 10m line and running the ball over the line to score. With his conversion, Penrith reclaimed the lead 16-10.
HALF TIME: 16-10 Panthers
Penrith had a much better start to the second half and we scored our next try 6 minutes in, when Sowie put a chip kick over everyone’s heads. Jamal Idris and a couple of Knights players went for it but Idris got his hands on it and batted it back into some open space where Josh Mansour ran onto it and dived over the line. Sowie’s kick missed, so the Panthers took a 10 point lead.
We backed that up 3 minutes later when Newcastle flicked misdirected a pass and it landed in the middle of a bunch of players on the Knights 30m line. Dean Whare scooped it up and took off down the field, dodging several defenders before streaking away to score under the posts unopposed. Sowie converted from in front, and Penrith took a 26-10 lead with just under 30 minutes remaining.
The rest of the half saw the ball move from one end of the field to the other with no end result. Newcastle had several opportunities to break away and score but on every occasion they dropped the ball or made a mistake, and they couldn’t come up with the goods.
Five minutes from full time Knights lock Adam Clydesdale was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Jeremy Latimore. The Panthers were awarded a penalty and Sowie took the kick for two, extending our lead to 28-10.
And in the final minute of the match, James Segeyaro put the icing on the Panthers’ cake after taking the ball from dummy half inside our 10m line, side stepping several defenders and running the ball over the line, to send us home with the 2 points.
FULL TIME: 32-10 Panthers