The Panthers have clinched a come-from-behind win for the second week running after overcoming a 14-0 deficit at half-time to run down the Knights 30-20 at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The boot of Nathan Cleary and the destructive Trent Merrin led the way in the second half for the Panthers as they secured back-to-back wins for the first time in 2017.
A deep Nathan Cleary kick afforded the Knights a seven tackle set and they used each one of them to work up field and open the scoring in the 4th minute. Jaelan Feeney and Sione Mata’utia combined before Feeney offloaded for Brock Lamb to go over, then converting his own try to give his side a 6-0 lead.
The home side doubled their lead four minutes later when Daniel Saifiti crashed over from close range courtesy of a Danny Levi pass. Lamb added his second conversion to make it 12-0.
The Panthers struggled to get themselves back in to the contest with penalties and loose balls their undoing, ultimately allowing the Knights to push their lead out to 14 points courtesy of a penalty goal to Lamb with five minutes left in the first half.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 14 – 0 Penrith Panthers
The Panthers began the second half on the front foot courtesy of consecutive penalties against the Knights, eventually capitalising in the 50th minute through Matt Moylan. Trent Merrin’s strong run pierced through the line and allowed him to get his arm free and offload to the skipper to apply the finish. Cleary’s conversion raised the flags to bring it back to 14-6.
The visitors had their second three minutes later through Leilani Latu. The prop ran on to a short ball from stand-in hooker Tyrone Peachey and carried a handful of defenders over the line to score next to the uprights allowing Cleary the simplest of conversions to make it 14-12.
The Panthers found themselves in the lead in the 66th minute when James Tamou picked up a loose ball and took advantage of some sloppy Knights defending to put his side in front. Cleary again had a simple conversion and he would make it 18-14.
The second-half onslaught continued soon after with Cleary’s kicking game difficult to handle. Another repeat set added to the pressure the Panthers were building and they had their reward when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak ran on to another Cleary kick to give his side a 24-14 after Cleary’s conversion.
Another kick behind the Knights line, this time from Moylan, caught Dane Gagai out of position allowing Moylan to apply the finishing touch for his second try before Cleary’s fifth successive conversion sealed the win.
The Knights ran in a late consolation try through Peter Mata’utia as the Panthers headed home with the two competition points.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 20 – 30 Penrith Panthers