Panthers dominate Knights in NSW Cup decider
The Penrith Panthers have well and truly dominated the Newcastle Knights to take out the VB NSW Cup Grand Final to the noise of a 48-12 belting.
Panthers' eyes now on national prize
Tied up at 6-all after 20 minutes, the Panthers went on to score a further three first half tries to rack up an 18 point halftime lead despite Newcastle completing at 81 per cent in the first stanza.
With Newcastle halfback Michael Dobson being ruled out with a foot complaint during the week, the Knights were left floundering under the guidance of halves Matt Minto and Tyler Randell as Panthers fullback Kieran Moss produced a hat-trick of tries.
With the Panthers having only lost two games since Round 3, the minor premiers extended their winning streak to eight, ending Newcastle's nine game winning run in the process, as they head towards the National State Championship fixture in a showdown against the Intrust Super Cup premiers the Northern Pride next Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.
Penrith struck first within six minutes after Isaah Yeo had opposite back-rower Timana Tahu grabbing at air when he busted through and put five-eighth Luke Capewell away for the afternoon's first points.
Minto hit back for his team four minutes later when he pushed his way over the tryline. While referee Liam Nicholls sent it upstairs as a no try, the video referees had no problem overruling it to equal the ledger.
After a seesawing opening exchange, Yeo continued his solid stint in the 20th minute when Capewell contributed one back for his back-rower. The passage of play started with captain Kevin Kingston who passed it out to the five-eighth before sending Yeo over back inside to score.
Controversy reared its head soon after when touch judge Michael Laverty failed to adjudicate on a forward pass despite stopping in his tracks earlier in the passage of play, the contentious officiating saw fullback Moss finish off a long range effort in the 25th minute.
Another questionable forward pass, this time from Penrith centre Kevin Naiqama who earlier badly dislocated his finger, saw Eto Nabuli cross for his 19th try of the year and extend the Panthers' lead to 18 by halftime in what proved to be a dominant opening stanza from the minor premiers.
A disallowed try to Wes Naiqama in the 48th minute didn't stop the Panthers onslaught when centre Waqa Blake put the game out of reach seven minutes later to make it a 30-6 scoreline.
Newcastle gave themselves hope in the 61st minute when prop Pat Vaivai bullocked his way over but the Panthers sealed the game thanks to two tries from fullback Moss and another consolation from lock Ryan Simpkins in the final ten minutes.
Of concern however for Penrith will be Yeo's failure to return to the game after going down the tunnel with an ankle injury just before halftime.
Penrith Panthers 48 (Kieran Moss 3, Luke Capewell, Isaah Yeo, Ryan Simpkins, Eto Nabuli, Waqa Blake Tries; Wes Naiqama 7, Kevin Kingston Goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 12 (Matt Minto, Pat Vaivai Try; Josh Mantellato 2 Goals) at Allianz Stadium. Crowd: 3258.