The nib Newcastle Knights have copped a tough finish to the season, with Penrith proving to be too good in a 54-10 loss at Panthers Stadium.
On a picturesque day at the foot of the mountains, it was the goal-line defence of both sides that owned the opening exchanges.
The Knights had the better of the early chances, with Josh King pulled down just short after an impressive line-break from Daniel Saifiti.
With both sides trading attacking chances, it was the Knights who drew first blood with Starford To’a taking an intercept and racing 70 metres to score on debut.
The Panthers struck straight back, with Nathan Cleary finding space in the middle to run 30 metres to score under the posts, with his ensuing conversion leaving the Knights trailing 6-4.
The Panthers soon extended their lead, with Brian To’o beating six Knights defenders to cross on the right edge.
The Panthers continued to dominate possession and managed to nab a crucial try just three minutes from the break, with Nathan Cleary grabbing his second to send the teams into the sheds at 18-4.
The Knights came out firing in the second stanza, with Herman Ese’Ese grabbing a try just after half time to reduce the margin to eight points.
Unfortunately for the men in red and blue, the Panthers struck back just five minutes later, with Billy Burns grabbing his first try in the top-flight off a Nathan Cleary bomb.
The Knights were delivered a further blow in the very next set, with Wayde Egan finishing off a slick Panthers move to blow the score out to 30-10.
Matters were soon made worse for the Knights, with Connor Watson sin binned in the 58th minute for a professional foul.
The Panthers took full advantage, with Moses Leota adding their sixth in the very next set, before Cleary claimed his hat-trick in the 63rd minute.
The onslaught continued, with Burns racing away for his second to extend the lead to 38, before Cleary claimed try number four in the next set of six to make the score 54-10.