An action-packed top of the table clash saw the Newcastle Knights Jersey Flegg side defeated 18-4 by a polished Penrith Panthers at McDonald Jones Stadium on a sunny Saturday.
The Panthers had numerous opportunities in the first half to run away with the score, but the Knights dug deep to deny several attempts to cross over to only trail by 6 at halftime.
But a dominant second half display by the visitors saw the Knights come unstuck and tire in defence to go by 14 points.
An early penalty five metres from the Panthers line put the Knights in prime position to score but a dropped ball handed back possession to the visitors.
Penrith had solid go forward but couldn't penetrate a wall of red and blue. After several attempts and being held up over the line, they finally broke through via Brian Too who crashed over in the 15th minute.
Brendan Hands couldn't add the extras and it was 4-0 to the Panthers.
Penrith applied continued pressure on the Knights line and had a heavy slice of possession, but the home side kept them at bay with their defensive skills on display.
It was end to end football for the final 20 minutes, with a penalty right before the siren saw Hands kick the extra two points to put the Panthers up 6-0 into the break.
In the second half, quick back-to-back tries for the Panthers. Penrith had run of momentum to cross over via Jake Gillett-Gow before another four pointer two minutes later out wide from Shawn Blore. Hands slotted both conversions to stretch the visitors lead to 18-0.
Tom Starling tried to get something happening for the home side and broke through to reach the line but a missed opportunity as it was dropped before he could ground it.
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Finally, in the 72nd minute, Knights winger Justin Worley broke through on the left edge to record their first for the day. Kurtis Dark couldn't stick the conversion and the Knights trailed 18-4.
With less than 10 minutes on the clock, the Knights couldn't do much more and suffered an 18-4 loss against the best defensive team in the 20s competition.
Knights 4 (T: Worley G: Dark 0/1) defeated by
Panthers 18 (T: Too, Gillett-Gow, Blore G: Hands 2/3, PG: 1/1)