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Panthers players celebrate during their Round 23 win over the Knights at Hunter Stadium.

The Penrith Panthers have made their path to finals football clearer after a brutal 36-point second half showing helped them demolish the Knights 42-6 on Sunday afternoon.


Penrith skipper Matt Moylan orchestrated the victory as a third playmaker which helped his young halves Bryce Cartwright and Nathan Cleary manage their own affairs.

Doubles from wingers Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak helped the Panthers buck a weekend trend of upsets where top eight hopefuls Wests Tigers and the Warriors were beaten.

The Knights were handed their 15th-consecutive loss on a day where they farewelled retiring winger James McManus. 

Cleary's penalty goal just before half-time helped Penrith level the scores at 6-all, and it didn't take long for the visitors to break the deadlock when Moylan scored under the uprights in the 44th minute. 

The Panthers extended their lead to 12 when Knights outside backs Brendan Elliot and Jake Mamo's expectations of winger Watene-Zelezniak receiving the ball were met by a dummy and a clear path to the try-line by Waqa Blake in the 55th minute.

A wayward Mamo pass led to another Penrith try four minutes later when centre Tyrone Peachey crashed over under the posts. 

Watene-Zelezniak looked to have continued the Knights' woes in the 63rd minute but was unsuccessful in scoring when Elliot bundled him over the sideline. 

The Panthers winger wouldn't be denied two minutes later however, when a wild pass from prop Leilani Latu caught the Knights' right-edge napping again.

The New Zealand international had his second in the 70th minute when a two-man cut-out ball from Moylan helped Penrith capitalise off a scrum play.

Josh Mansour capped off the win with his second try of the game in the dying seconds. 

Penrith's 36-point win will remembered as well for the first shot clock penalty ever. Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen failed to kick a drop out in the designated time in the eighth minute, offering the Panthers handy field territory just 10 metres out from the try-line.

Four minutes later, Mansour scored the game's first try when he finished off a last play shift out wide. As the Panthers celebrated, an element of doubt remained over whether five-eighth Cartwright had dropped the ball on the tackle prior. 

Newcastle dominated the possession from there (59 per cent in the first half) but wouldn't score until 30 minutes in to take a 6-4 lead.

Elliot scored the Knights' first and only four-pointer when he took possession of a Trent Hodkinson bomb and was left to easily stroll over the white stripe. It would be an uphill battle for Newcastle from there. 

Penrith Panthers 42 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2, Josh Mansour 2, Matt Moylan, Waqa Blake, Tyrone Peachey tries; Nathan Cleary 7 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 6 (Brendan Elliot try; Trent Hodkinson goal) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 13,771. Half-time: 6-all.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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