The Panthers' Origin contingent backed up in style as Nathan Cleary led his team to an emphatic 42-6 win over the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
Putting the disappointment of Wednesday night's loss behind them, Cleary and halves partner Jarome Luai were in everything while Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o and Liam Martin had plenty of good moments as the premiers flexed their muscle in the Hunter.
Cleary got the ball rolling in the fifth minute when he scored after some sweet stepping close to the line by Luai.
In the 12th minute the Panthers doubled their lead when Viliame Kikau steamrolled Kalyn Ponga to cross on the left edge.
The Knights skipper landed heavily on his head as he tried to tackle Kikau and was forced from the field for a HIA which he failed.
Tago brilliant offload for May try
A monster 40-20 by Cleary in the 26th minute gave the Panthers field position and a great pass by Izack Tago put winger Taylan May over for his 13th try of the season.
Come the 35th minute and the Panthers were out to a huge lead when To'o crossed in the right hand corner courtesy of a deft flick pass from Crichton.
A penalty goal to Cleary made it 26-0 at the break and it took just 10 minutes into the second half for the lead to be extended when Kurt Mann spilled a grubber and Tago picked up the scraps to score.
Cleary and Luai combine for a ripper
The grubber had been supplied by Kikau, showcasing his full range of skills as the premiers went 32-0 up.
Crichton stamped his class on the game in the 64th minute when he took a pass from Cleary and turned Enari Tuala inside out before bamboozling Anthony Milford and Mann on the way to his ninth try of the season.
Mann makes a mess as Tago extends the lead
To'o completed his double with 12 minutes to play when he finished off some slick passing by Cleary and Dylan Edwards and the score was out to 42-0 before the Knights saved some face with a late try to Edrick Lee after interchange forward Leo Thompson fired a long ball to Tuala who put the long-striding winger away down the left.
The try was Lee's 14th in 17 games at McDonald Jones Stadium but it was too little too late for the home side, who sit 12th on the ladder with four wins for the season.
- Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga left the field for a HIA after just 15 minutes of play. He failed the HIA and was unable to return.
- The Panthers did not make a mistake until the 45th minute, completing their first 23 sets.
- Penrith's back three Dylan Edwards, Brian To'o and Taylan May had 550 running metres and 18 tackle breaks between them.
Match: Knights v Panthers
Round 14 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
- The Panthers are six from six away from home in 2022.
- The Knights have lost their past five games at McDonald Jones Stadium by 24 points or more.
- Knights hooker Chris Randall did his best to stem the tide with 59 tackles.
- Veteran prop David Klemmer (111m) and back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon (108m) were the only Knights forwards to run for more than 100 metres in the match.
- Eight of Penrith's 13 wins in 2022 have been by 20 points or more.
To'o coasts to a double
Play of the Game
Viliame Kikau is an awesome sight in full flight if you're a spectator but not so much for defenders trying to stop him. Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga put his body on the line in the 14th minute to try and stop Kikau who was on his way to the line after good lead-up work by Nathan Cleary, Matt Eisenhuth and Jarome Luai. The big man crossed for his sixth try of the season and Ponga was left in his wake after hitting his head hard on the ground. Ponga failed his HIA and played no further part, leaving the Knights without their most dynamic attacking weapon.
Kikau needs no help
What They Said
"I thought we were really patient -- I think we completed 21 from 21 in the first half -- and a lot of hard work went into that ... We had a really good week, and it was good to see the Origin boys come back and play well, and the boys around them helped them out in that regard too." - Panthers assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo
Panthers: Round 14
"They're a good footy team but we've let ourselves down in a number of areas here at home, and I can assure you that no-one sets out to disappoint our supporters. No-one. We want to put in performances that we can be proud of, but unfortunately, the reality of where we need to get to ... if you look at the opposition, we're envious of them. That's the organisation that we want to get to, and it's going to take time. It's not a quick fix." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien
Knights: Round 14
The Knights face a tough road trip to Canberra for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Raiders and will be sweating on Kalyn Ponga's availability. Bradman Best could be an outside chance to return from an elbow injury but looks more likely to be held back until round 16. The Knights beat the Raiders in both meetings last season - in Wagga in round nine and Brisbane in round 20.
The Panthers travel to Redcliffe to tackle the Warriors on Saturday evening. The only meeting between the teams last year resulted in a 30-16 win to the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium in round 18.