The NSW Cup Newcastle Knights beat the Penrith Panthers 44-12 at Jubilee Oval on Sunday afternoon to progress to a preliminary final.
While both sides struggled for momentum in the first half, the Knights blew away the reigning NSW Cup premiers in the second half with six unanswered tries.
The Novocastrians made six changes from last week with Jake Mamo, Nathan Ross, Sam Mataora, Clint Newton, Joe Tapine and Clint Newton returning from the NRL side, while Jaelen Feeney (illness, Pat Mata'utia (knee) and Chanel Mata'utia (knee) withdrew late.
The numerous changes clearly didn't unsettle the Knights though, with the side now looking forward to a preliminary final against the Mounties at Leichhardt Oval next Sunday at 3.10pm.
The Panthers lost the ball three times in the opening minutes of the match, giving the red and blues the impetus to score first points. With only 12 minutes gone Carlos Tuimavave punted the ball across the field, winger Ken Tofilau leaping higher than his markers to score.
George Ndaira added the extras, but two minutes later the Panthers struck back via Kieran Moss with Will Smith converting from out wide to make the scores even.
A series of dropped balls and penalties from both sides followed, until the Knights eventually earned a repeat set from a line drop-out four minutes from half-time.
Mamo took full advantage, snatching an offload from Lachlan Fitzgibbon to dive over in the left corner. Ndaira's attempted conversion sailed wide, but the Knights still took a 10-6 lead into half-time.
Three minutes into the second half Mamo opened the floodgates for the Knights, using his blistering pace to beat the defence and ground the ball beneath the uprights. Ndaira made no mistakes with his kick this time, pushing the Knights' lead to ten points.
Five minutes later the Novocastrians cemented their lead with another try, utility back Kerrod Holland reacting quickly to a bomb to score near the uprights. Ndaira's kick went wide, but soon after Honeti Tuha showed his speed when he intercepted a pass to run 45 metres and score.
The Panthers were well and truly under the pump now, and three minutes later Holland grabbed his second from a Mamo chip. Ndaira converted to push the score to 30-6, and with 16 minutes left on the clock Fitzgibbon made a bruising 15 metre run to heap even more misery on the Panthers.
The scoring wasn't over yet though, Mamo busting out of a tackle to complete his hat-trick with nine minutes to play. Ndaira added the extras, and then kicked a penalty goal five minutes later to push the score to 44-6.
With little more than a minute left on the clock the Panthers grabbed a try via Malakai Watene-Zelesniak, the final score 44-12.
Newcastle Knights 44 (T: Tofilau, Mamo 3, Holland 2, Tuha, Fitzgibbon, G: Ndaira 5/8, P: Ndaira 1/1)
Penrith Panthers 12 (T: Moss, Watene-Zelezniak, G: Smith 2/2)
1. Jake Mamo, 2. Honeti Tuha, 22. Nathan Ross, 5. Kerrod Holland, 6. Carlos Tuimavave, 14. George Ndaira, 8. Damien Sironen, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Sam Mataora, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 20. Joseph Tapine, 13. Clint Newton (c). Interchange: 16. Michael Steele, 18. Marvin Filipo, 21. Josh King, 27. Tama Koopu.
Newcastle Knights v Mounties
Date: Sunday September 20
Venue: Leichhardt Oval