The Panthers have won the NSW Cup Grand Final, beating Newcastle 48-12 at Allianz Stadium today!
After losing just four games this year and taking out the minor premiership by 10 points, Penrith produced an impressive performance to hand Coach Garth Brennan his second premiership title in a row.
Both sides were at full strength for this clash which was always going to be an old school grudge match, given the history between these two teams. A handful of Panthers players and Coach Brennan have played and worked with the Knights in recent years, while Newcastle Captain Clint Newton only left the foot of the mountains last year.
Tensions flared on the field at times, but everyone managed to keep their cool for most of the match.
The Panthers scored first, six minutes into the game when Isaah Yeo broke through Newcastle’s defence and took off down the field, sprinting 30m before passing inside to Luke Capewell who dodged a defender and dived over to score! Wes Naiqama converted to give Penrith an early 6-0 lead.
A few minutes later, the Knights hit back when five-eighth Matt Minto barged his way over in the corner, dragging a bunch of Penrith defenders with him. The ref ruled a no try believing he had lost the ball but went up to the video ref to check. A review found he had kept old of the ball and the points were awarded. The kick levelled the scores at 6-6.the
Penrith were in again at the 20 minute mark after winning back to back sets up our end. Capewell collected the ball from Kev Kingston before sending it to Yeo just inside the 10m line, and he ran through a couple of defenders to dive over and score. Naiqama added the two to put the Panthers out in front again.
A couple of minutes later we were in again after Ryan Simpkins got a beautiful offload to Waqa Blake who made a break for it, side stepping a couple of Knights players to get to within 20m of our line, before he sent the ball to Kieran Moss, who carried it the rest of the way. The conversion extended our lead to 18-6.
Two minutes before the half time break, the Panthers were in again, courtesy of some quick ball work that started with Kingston in the centre of the field who passed the ball to Capewell, who flicked it out to Moss. He offloaded to Kev Naiqama who then lobbed the ball to Eto Nabuli who was unmarked on the wing, and he sprinted up the sideline to get the ball down. Naiqama sent the ball straight through the posts to move the score to 24-6.
HALF TIME: 24-6 Panthers
Penrith came out swinging again in this half and in the 47th minute we almost had our next try when Wes Naiqama crossed in the corner. Newcastle claimed that one of their players had been knocked out of play by a Penrith defender, and the video ref agreed so it was a no try.
We did get across the line in the 54th minute when Tom Humble put a high bomb over to the right of the field and Waqa Blake chased, waiting patiently for the ball to bounce before snatching it out of the air before two Newcastle defenders could get to it, and dropping to the ground to score. The conversion extended Penrith’s lead to 30-6.
In the 59th minute, Kierran Moseley had to be helped from the field after copping a head knock in a tackle, and he was taken to the sheds for a concussion assessment.
Newcastle took full advantage of the stop in play and scored their second try in their next set, with big Paterkia Via Via bulldozing his way over the line under the posts. They took a quick kick to take the score to 30-12.
But it wasn’t long before Penrith had their next try and it followed a brilliant line break from Kevin Naiqama who sprinted 20m before offloading to Kingston who then passed inside to Moss, and he took the ball the rest of the way, placing it down under the posts. Naiqama’s conversion from in front put the Panthers ahead 36-12 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Moss scored his hat trick in the next set after Kev Naiqama put Capewell through a gap and sent him down the field, before Moss ended up with the ball and carried it over the line to give the Panthers an unbeatable 42-12 lead.
Penrith were on a roll and within two minutes they had another try when Kev Kingston collected the ball from dummy half and sent Ryan Simpkins straight through a hole up the middle, and over the line to score. Kingston had a go at the conversion from in front and nailed it, taking the score to 48-12.
Penrith kept control for the rest of the game until the full time siren sealed the win!
FULL TIME: 48-12 Panthers
The Panthers now go onto play the winner of the QLD Cup Grand Final between the Northern Pride and the Tigers.