The Panthers have continued their perfect start to the Harold Matthews Cup in 2018, toppling the previously undefeated Newcastle Knights 18-12 at St Marys Leagues Stadium on Saturday.
Following a scrappy start to the game, tries to prop Osemen Momoh, winger Maxwell Pritchard and centre Zion Tauasa saw the Panthers score their fifth-straight victory.
The Knights were gifted an early opportunity in Penrith’s red zone following a 6th minute penalty. The visitors came close to opening the scoring when halfback Jonah Pezet poked his nose through the line, but he was denied by desperate goal line defence.
The Panthers ill-discipline nearly cost them again in the 12th minute when the Knights marched upfield from a penalty and Montell Kuru dived for the corner. However the Newcastle winger was forced into touch as the Panthers came away unscathed again.
No reprieve was forthcoming following the Panthers next error however, with fullback Logan Radzievic slicing through the defence to score from a scrum. Radzievic converted from in front, taking the Knights to a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes.
The Panthers hit back in the 19th minute when hooker Trent Borthwick sent Momoh crashing over the line for the hosts' opening try after some fancy footwork by halfback Connor Mason. Five-eighth Donovan Boney added the extras to level the scores.
The Knights looked to have returned to the lead when centre Harry Fraser crossed the line in the 22nd minute. However the Panthers were let off the hook again, with the play called back for a forward pass.
The Panthers went into halftime with an unlikely lead after Mason broke into open space in the 39th minute and linked up with Boney, who then spread the ball to the left where Tauasa put Pritchard over in the corner. Boney’s conversion attempt from the sideline swung wide so the Panthers entered the sheds with a four-point lead.
HALF-TIME: PANTHERS 10-6 KNIGHTS
The Panthers looked to extend their lead in the early stages of the second half when Mason made another line break and spread the ball wide in the 34th minute, however a handling error meant the Knights survived the early scare.
Newcastle surged to the other end of the field and looked for an equaliser through a barnstorming Max Bradbury, but the Knights forward was held short of the line.
In the 45th minute a cross-field bomb from Knights five-eighth Noah Ryan was plucked out of the air by Tauasa, who raced the length of the field to score. Donovan’s successful conversion extended the Panthers lead to 16-6.
The advantage was reduced in eye-catching fashion just minutes later however, as Pezet retrieved his own grubber in behind Penrith’s defence and offloaded to Radzievic, who touched down under the posts. Radzievic’s successful conversion narrowed the margin to four points with 10 minutes remaining.
A late penalty gave the Knights a chance to snatch the win in the dying stages of play however an incorrect play-the-ball saw the Panthers hang on.
Boney stretched the final margin to six points in the final minute of play, booting a long-range penalty goal to seal a hard-fought win.
FULL-TIME: PANTHERS 18-12 KNIGHTS