Penrith scored 36 unanswered points in the second half of their match against Newcastle to finish 42-6 winners at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
After a frustrating initial 40 minutes, Penrith were able to turn the swing of possession in their favour in the 2nd stanza, piling on the points in what was an error, and penalty-riddled game.
The turn of form in the 2nd half will provide the mountain-men with some timely confidence heading into Friday’s crucial clash against the Wests Tigers at Pepper Stadium.
The opening ten minutes of the match saw both sides make a number of mistakes, with possession being turned over on a regular basis. From the initial set Waqa Blake bizzarely fell into Knights’ fullback Jake Mamo when chasing Penrith’s first kick, earning the home side a penalty and the early field position.
Shortly after Newcastle gave away a cheap penalty when they failed to kick a drop-out in time, but Penrith weren’t able to capitalise.
Penrith finally broke the deadlock in the 12th minute with a Josh Mansour try that came from a brilliant sideline-to-sideline play. Nathan Cleary couldn’t extend the lead but it left the Panthers in front at 4-0.
The sloppy play continued with neither side making any headway besides an odd break or run. Jake Mamo earned his side a third penalty for the day in the 28th minute, putting them back into striking distance.
It resulted in a perfectly timed mark from Brendan Elliot, who grabbed the ball from the air and strolled over the try-line without a Panthers’ hand on him. When Trent Hodkinson converted it put the Knights out to a 6-4 lead.
A consecutive pair of penalties to the Knights propelled them back to the juicy end of the field, but Sione Matu-utia couldn’t hold on to a sharp Jarrod Mullen pass.
The end-to-end flow of the match continued with 11 penalties and just as many errors making the opening 40 minutes one to forget.
Penrith levelled the scores just before halftime when they opted to take a penalty-kick in the 39th minute.
Halftime: Panthers 6 - Knights 6
A slick run from Panthers’ fullback Matt Moylan had him scoring under the posts in the 44th minute, with Peter Wallace’s well-time pass offering the try assist. Cleary’s kick made it 12-6 early into the 2nd half.
Turnovers and errors had become the stipulating figure of the match; with the players’ making a variety of mistakes, while the referees continued to blow the penalties.
Waqa Blake appeared to make something from nothing in the 56th minute, when he received a pass 20-metres out and skirted his way not just over the try-line but around and under the posts. Cleary was again given an easy conversion and it became 18-6.
Penrith immediately followed Blake’s try up with another decisive four-pointer when Tyrone Peachey ran on to a ball and crossed under the black dot. Again it was another easy kick for Nathan Cleary to make it 24-6.
In the 64th minute, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was handed an easy try to his name after some quality lead-up play from Waqa Blake. Cleary converted to send Penrith out to a commanding 30-6 lead.
It might be hard to believe but it got even easier for DWZ in the 69th minute when he was on the end of a switch of play from the scrum. The Panthers’ winger got a hold of the ball from around 30 metres out and just ran around the Knights’ edge defence. Cleary kept his consistent record to make it 36-6 with ten minutes left to play.
The Knights fans were left with little to stick around for when Josh Mansour capped off Penrith’s afternoon with a diving put-down in the corner of the field. Facing the falling-sun, 18-year-old Cleary proved his valuable worth to the resurgent Panthers when he made it seven from eight conversions for the day.
Fulltime: Panthers 42 - Knights 6