Penrith Panthers have bounced back from last week’s thrashing by Canterbury in Jersey Flegg , claiming a thrilling 20-18 win over Newcastle Knights at BlueBet Stadium.
Desperate defence in the final 10 minutes saw the Panthers home after they had led 20-6 at half time.
The Panthers were on song from the beginning, forcing a mistake from the Knights in the very first set of the match. They shifted left straight from the scrum, with Luke Hanson scoring after just 75 seconds.
The Knights took the lead in the tenth minute when a grubber bounced awkwardly away from Hanson and straight to Fletcher Sharpe for a try under the posts.
The Panthers dominated the middle third of the half, with a pinpoint 40/20 from Joseph Nohra giving putting them deep on the attack. The Knights held them out though, with Connor Mason held up over the line after Ryley Smith forced a goal line drop out.
They continued to attack off the back of a chargedown, with Peter Taateo also held up after an aggressive carry.
They finally took the lead back in the 20th minute when they shifted left to Timothy Sielaff-Burns to score in the corner.
Harrison Hassett extended the lead in the 28th minute when he crossed from a simple short ball, with Joseph Nohra converting for 14-6.
Taateo was rewarded for another rampaging charge in the dying seconds of the half with a try that took the half time score to 20-6 after Nohra converted.
Strong defence by the Panthers was a feature of the opening ten minutes of the second half, with several big tackles forcing errors. A trysaver by the left-edge defence on Jahoiyakim Afoa also saw Ryan Rivett sin binned for dissent.
Being a man down didn’t stop the Knights from striking a quick double blow, first through Sharpe, then Kyle McCarthy as they managed to keep the ball alive. Liam Sutton converted both times to cut the margin to two.
With their line under threat multiple times in the dying minutes, it was the Panthers right-edge defence that stood tall, refusing to break despite the Knights appearing certain to score.
Cody Lawson came up with a big play with two minutes remaining, just winning the race to a Knights kick that would have resulted in a try.
One final big defensive play in the final minute forced an error from the Knights, allowing the Panthers to scrape home.