The Newcastle Knights put a tough start to the 2016 Auckland Nines behind them with a 15-14 victory over the Penrith Panthers.
In an improved performance, Jake Mamo was a standout with two tries and several dangerous runs.
The win keeps the team in contention for a place in the knockout stages with the final pool match against the Wests Tigers on Sunday morning (9.25am Newcastle / 11.25am Auckland).
The red and blues started against the Panthers with a barnstorming charge down the middle, rounded off with a late play out wide.
Pat Mata’utia dinked the ball through the line for brother Chanel, who managed to ground it and give the Knights their first four points.
On the back of a penalty the Panthers scored four minutes later, Zac Dockar-Clay the quickest to react to a bouncing grubber.
Will Smith converted to put the Panthers in the lead for half a minute, until Jaelen Feeney made a smart kick 40 metres out.
Mamo was the runaway winner in a footrace against Smith, and tapped the ball on with his foot to score his first try of the tournament.
With Danny Levi missing the conversion, the Knights went into half time with an 8-6 lead.
Early in the second half Mamo was at his best again, splitting the Panthers’ defence single-handedly with his pace to score a bonus-point try.
The Panthers were still in the game though, and with seven minutes to play Dallin-Waitene Zelezniak collected a 70 metre kick to give Jeremy Latimore an easy try.
Less than a minute later the Panthers were over the line again when Robert Jennings capitalised on a Chanel Mata’utia dropped ball to score.
With the score poised at 15-14 the Knights were looking at a nervy conclusion to the game.
Despite another dropped ball that very well could have resulted in conceding another try, the Knights hung on to their slender advantage to earn their first points of the 2016 competition
Jake Mamo, Nathan Ross, Jaelen Feeney, Will Pearsell, Pauli Pauli, Tyler Randell, Daniel Saifiti, Robbie Rochow, Jacob Saifiti, Sione Mata’utia, Tariq Sims, Chanel Mata’utia, Levi, Pat Mata’utia.
Knights v Tigers, 9.25am Newcastle / 11.25am Auckland, on Sunday morning.