Panthers Intrust Super Premiership NSW coach Steve Georgallis says he's delighted the side have secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Inspired by a hat-trick from Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, the Panthers recorded a 28-16 victory over the Knights at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Heading into the Round 6 clash the Penrith side had only two wins in 2016 but were keen to build on their 38-point thrashing of Manly over Easter.
"(We're) definitely happy just to get back-to-back wins," Georgallis said after Sunday's victory.
"It's very hard in our competition. You don’t get the same team every week and you don’t have that cohesion.
"I'm very happy with how the players stuck in during the second half; we weren't playing well."
The 12-point win was secured midway through the second half, but it wasn’t a comprehensive victory and Newcastle came back after Penrith scooted away to lead 10-0 early in the game.
"It’s what you call an ugly win, but a win’s a win and we’re very happy to come away with no injuries," Georgallis said.
"We could have fallen into the trap of playing against a team with a lot of changes and not stuck to our structures and the basics of footy – running hard and tackling hard.
"To the boys' credit they turned it around in the second half and started sticking to their jobs and doing what they needed to do to win."
It was a big weekend for the Watene-Zelezniak brothers after Dallin scored two tries in the NRL game against the Cowboys and Malakai secured a hat-trick in Newcastle. Georgallis gave a fair assessment of Malakai’s progress in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW competition.
"He’s going well. He's been playing on the wing, then he played fullback, and today he played centre. He's played all three positions quite well," Georgallis said.
"I'm very happy for the kid but those three tries are probably the result of the forwards going forward in the second half."
Asked whether MWZ was a chance of breaking into the NRL side this season, Georgrallis was reserved about his prospects.
"I don’t think he’d look out of place in the NRL team, he’s just one of those players that mature a little later," he said.
"That’s the beauty of NSW Cup; allowing that player of 23, 24 to mature.
"He’s going really well, so he wouldn’t be out of place."
After their third win of the season, Geogarllis wasn’t sure on how to assess the sides' development.
"It's very hard to gauge but we’ve got some really good players there, some really young players who are still learning the game," he said."
Showing how easily the side can change from week-to-week was the inclusion of Tyrone Peachey for the Knights game who was brought into the side after missing out on NRL selection. Adding to the changes was Sam Clune’s shift to fullback to cover for Will Smith.
"Just trying to get that cohesion in the team environment of the NSW Cup is really hard," Georgallis said.
"As long as we can win the majority of our home games and pick up a few away games like we are, that will put us in the top eight and it becomes a different ball game after that."
With their next game against the Wyong Roos, who occupy the same position on the ladder as the Panthers, Georgallis indicated his side will have to be up for another big game if they’re to continue the winning streak.
"Wyong’s just going to be like Newcastle. They’re struggling a little, there’s a few injuries there and a few players (playing) up,” he said.
"If we’re complacent they could obviously play really well against us and we could in trouble.
"The boys have got to have their heads on and approach the game like we’re playing one of the top teams."
The Panthers tackle Wyong Roos at 3pm on Sunday April 17 at Morry Breen Oval.