Penrith Panthers have demolished the Newcastle Knights 40-0 with a clinical performance at Pepper Stadium.
Anthony Griffin handed Corey Harawira-Naera his debut, replacing Bryce Cartwright following his mid-week withdrawal with an ongoing ankle problem.
A penalty to the home side afforded them the first opportunity to get on the scoreboard after five minutes.
A sweeping move to the right edge went through the hands to Dean Whare who drew the defence in before releasing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to dive over in the corner with an acrobatic effort.
Watene-Zelezniak nearly had his second moments later with a carbon-copy move, but the winger’s foot touched the sideline as he caught the ball.
Debutant Harawira-Naera had no such problems when he ran on to a short ball from Nathan Cleary to score his first try at the top level.
The halfback added the extras to make it 10-0 in the 23rd minute.
It was 16-0 just shy of the half hour mark when Te Maire Martin crossed over with a silky bit of skill to slice open the Knights defence.
Harawira-Naera was having a debut to remember, setting up Tyrone Peachey moments later for Penrith’s fourth try of the half as they stormed in to break leading 22-0.
HALF-TIME: Penrith Panthers 22 – 0 Newcastle Knights
A penalty goal to Cleary immediately following the restart pushed the score out to 24-0.
The Knights thought they had broken through for their first points of the game when Ken Sio crossed over in the corner, but it was brought back for a forward pass which drew sarcastic applause from the Panthers faithful given the events of the week prior.
However, the Panthers would be next to score as they put to bed any hope of a comeback.
Peter Wallace crossed over in the 53rd minute from dummy half before Martin put Whare in for his first try to extend the lead out to 34 points.
Martin then went from provider to try-saver, running down Knights flier Nathan Ross to keep the visitors scoreless.
Cleary polished off a superb individual performance with a try four minutes from time to wrap up a convincing 40-0 performance after kicking his sixth goal of the night.
FULL-TIME: Penrith Panthers 40 – 0 Newcastle Knights