The Penrith Panthers NYC side have finished their regular season on a high with a dominant 36-18 win over Newcastle Knights at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.
With Jarome Luai out suspended, Sam Elwin returned in the halves alongside Nathan Cleary. Soni Luke dropped in, pushing Dylan Edwards back to the bench, while James Fisher-Harris missed out and was replaced Thomson Tuigimala.
The Panthers got off to a flying start on the back of a clever grubber from Nathan Cleary, which Sam Elwin was able to pick up and offload to Tyrone May, who went underneath the posts to score. Cleary successfully converted to take Penrith to a 6-0 lead.
Penrith struck again in the 19th minute through powerhouse prop Moses Leota. Tyrone May was able to expose the Knights defensive line close to the line to gift Leota the try. Cleary converted for a 12-0 lead.
With the morning heat beginning to take its toll on the Knights big men, Nathan Cleary was able to cut through the line to out-pace the fullback for a 30m solo effort. He converted his own try to take Penrith to an 18-0 lead.
The following set after the kick-off, the Panthers crossed again in the 26th minute through Maliko Filino after Tyrone May provided a pinpoint cut-out ball for the centre to cross in the corner. Cleary missed his first conversion of the afternoon and score remained 22-0.
Newcastle responded through Braden Robson after a backline move in the 33rd minute. Brock Lamb converted the sideline conversion to take scores to 22-6.
HALF TIME: Panthers 22-6
The break proved this week to be no burden for the Panthers, who scored again in the 48th minute. Cleary pounced on a loose ball to put Brent Naden into a hole and was able to back up his fullback. He received the return pass and scored underneath the posts for his second try of the afternoon which he easily converted for a 28-6 scoreline.
The Knights hit back in the 53rd minute through Matthew Faitotoa, after questionable defence from the Panthers allowed the Knights to run 60m for the try. The conversion was successful, taking scores to 28-12.
A handling error from Penrith coming off their goal line gifted Newcastle’s Daniel Safiti a try in the 64th minute. The conversion was successful and scores read 28-18.
Penrith remained resilient on the back of the Newcastle surge and crossed in the 70th minute. A cross field kick from Cleary was fumbled by the Newcastle winger in the in-goal and the ball was pounced on by Dylan Edwards to score. Cleary missed the tough conversion and score remained 32-18.
The Panthers closed out the afternoon’s proceedings scoring in the 77th minute from a smart cut-out pass from Soni Luke to put Maliko Falino into space and score his second for the day. The conversion was waved away, making the final score 36-18.
FULL TIME: Panthers 36-18