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The Knights defeated the Panthers 16-12 at Hunter Stadium in Round 15 last year.

Newcastle seized the lead with 17 minutes gone when Neville Costigan charged onto an inside ball from NRL debutant Ryan Stig, with a conversion and subsequent penalty goal sending the home team to the sheds with an 8-nil lead.

The Panthers roared back into contention shortly after the break when Masada Iosefa sprinted onto a flat ball from halfback Luke Walsh to cross next to the goalposts. An Akuila Uate try off a lovely Keith Lulia flick pass gave the Knights breathing space in the 65th minute before Iosefa crossed for his second of the night to leave the hometown faithful nervous with a 14-12 scoreline with seven minutes remaining. However, a Kurt Gidley penalty goal on the siren secured the Novocastrians the win.

It was a stirring second half by the Panthers, who outpointed their rivals despite completing just nine of 18 sets with the ball in hand. But it was their 23 missed tackles in the first 40 that did the damage.

Meanwhile the Knights were solid if unspectacular. They totalled 36 missed tackles and made 15 errors but their attack saw them through, with six line-breaks to Penrith’s three.