Panthers rally to down Knights
The Penrith Panthers have scored five tries in the second half to come from behind and beat the Newcastle Knights 30-20 at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
For the second consecutive week, Anthony Griffin's men laid on 30 points in the second period after trailing early with State of Origin hopefuls Matt Moylan and James Tamou going over for tries, while Trent Merrin was instrumental up front.
The visitors were forced to come from behind with only 16 men after inspirational hooker Peter Wallace left the field in the 17th minute with a groin injury, the hooker ruled out for the remainder of the contest and putting the 31-year-old in doubt for Holden State of Origin I in just over a week.
After dominating the Canberra Raiders last week, the Knights continued with a strong showing to strike twice inside nine minutes and take a 12-point lead early before a penalty goal had the Novocastrians leading by 14 against a Panthers outfit lacking patience and discipline at the break.
A forward pass from Knights halfback Jaelen Feeney directly after half-time would give an indication into the second half with a 62 per cent completion rate.
Australian international Merrin provided a late offload for skipper Moylan to dive over and get the visitors on the board in the 49th minute and start the comeback.
It was a commanding performance from Merrin who clocked up over 210 metres from 21 carries and a try assist.
Newcastle's lead was evaporated further when Leilani Latu crashed over the top of Luke Yates and Josh King after the Knights conceded four penalties on their line.
The comeback was complete for the Panthers when another Origin hopeful in Tamou stepped inside some flimsy Knights defence to charge over under the posts and hand Anthony Griffin's men the lead by four with 15 minutes left remaining.
Penrith dominated the Knights' forward pack with over 450 extra run metres despite the home side holding 52 per cent of possession.
Earlier, Newcastle's tactics of kicking to the sidelines continued with Nathan Brown's men also choosing to run the ball on the last tackle close to the Panthers' try line early, with the play coming up trumps on consecutive occasions.
Despite being under a cloud heading into the clash, Knights halfback Jaelen Feeney took his place in the No.7 jersey and put Sione Mata'utia through a hole for the skipper to keep the ball alive for Brock Lamb to reach out and get the ball down.
After a monster performance against the Raiders, Daniel Saifiti continued on his good form early when Levi cut out brother Jacob to find the hulking front-rower who crashed over under the sticks.
Both Feeney and Lamb were dominant in the opening half but inexperience crept into their games with a number of errors and forced passes in the latter stages of the game.
Dane Gagai had an unhappy afternoon with three errors in the fullback position with his future at the club under the spotlight in the last week after speculation he has signed with South Sydney.
Newcastle scored on the stroke of full-time when Feeney threw a cut-out pass for Peter Mata'utia to go over for a consolation four-pointer in the corner, but it was Penrith who notched back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Penrith Panthers 30 (Moylan 2, Latu, Tamou, Watene-Zelezniak tries; Cleary 5 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 20 (Lamb, D Saifiti, P Mata'utia tries; Lamb 4 goals) at McDonald Jones Stadium. Half-time: Knights 14-0. Crowd: 13,319.