Slick Panthers slay poor Knights

The Penrith Panthers have taught the Newcastle Knights a football lesson, winning 32-10 in front of 13,682 frustrated and wet Novocastrians on Sunday at Hunter Stadium.

Led by a good display of cohesion from halves Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace, the Panthers proved superior to the Knights in a fixture that could only be described as four seasons in one game. The lightning and thunder couldn't stop the Panthers as they went on a six-tries-to-two blitz.

Penrith were forced to play a man down for more than half the game, as late in the first half prop Nigel Plum was penalised and put on-report when pressuring Jarrod Mullen on a last-tackle kicking play. Adding insult to injury, Plum managed to collide square with the five-eighth's shoulder – knocking himself out cold and ending his afternoon.

While the Knights fell for their seventh loss of the season as Penrith recorded their fifth win, Newcastle debutants Joseph Tapine and Pat Vaivai played admirably in a beaten side. Several Knights players may find themselves in reserve grade next weekend after poor performances across the park.

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The Panthers started the second half where they left off in the first term. A typical cross-field kick from Soward in the 47th minute saw his centre Jamal Idris jump up and bat it back to powerful winger Josh Mansour for his sixth try of the season.

A Joey Leilua brain-snap followed three minutes later, with the Knights centre flicking the ball to no-one, allowing Dean Whare to race 70 metres downfield to score under the posts.

Mullen's kicking display and a scrum penalty to the Knights with 13 minutes remaining in the game gave Newcastle fans a tiny flicker of hope, but Leilua was taken touch-in-goal on the first tackle and the Panthers would see out the game with the majority of momentum.

Soward added a consolation penalty with five minutes to play and Segeyaro dove over the line in the final minute to add further salt to the Knights wounds and a 32-10 final score.

While they fell to another loss, the home side were the first team to get points on the board. After a steady start from both teams, Knights winger James McManus capitalised on a backline movement started by Mullen and assisted by Leilua to put them ahead 4-0.

Poor handling and discipline by the Knights off the back of points proved deadly as the Panthers hit back in the 10th minute through winger David Simmons, in a similar fashion to the Knights try minutes earlier. Soward's conversation was waved away and a level playing field was restored.

Penrith fullback Matt Moylan created his team's second in the 20th minute, making an incredible bat-back from across the dead-ball line.

With halfback Wallace sending a cheeky grubber into the in-goal Moylan kept the ball alive by tapping it back with incredible athleticism above a diving Darius Boyd. Although Leilua picked up the scraps, he offloaded the ball in-goal to no-one and McManus was unable to secure it as Simmons forced in for a try.

Moylan was at the time credited with the try, having run back infield to touch down unbothered after the McManus-Simmons contest, but the Penrith winger was later handed his second four-pointer of the afternoon.

The Knights went on to score their second try of the afternoon through the persistence of centre Dane Gagai after the Plum incident. Knights captain Kurt Gidley – who went off earlier in the game with a concussion concern – returned to the foray and levelled the scores at 10.

With the Knights dropping the ball again after scoring points, five-eighth Soward whizzed his way through several defenders to regain the advantage for the away side in the 31st minute. The Knights were left to lament shooting themselves in the foot as the No.6 fist-pumped his way over the white stripe for his first ever try for the Panthers.

Penrith Panthers 32 (Simmons, Segeyaro, Mansour, Moylan, Whare, Soward tries; Soward 3 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 10 (McManus, Gagai tries; Gidley goal) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 13,682.