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Spirited Knights downed by Panthers

A gallant nib Newcastle Knights have been downed 24-6 by a dominant Penrith Panthers.

In front of a sold out crowd at BlueBet Stadium, the Knights' defence was the big story as the unbeaten Panthers dominated large parts of the contest.

Unfortunately, that defence was absent for a crucial moment early in the contest.

The game couldn't have started worse for the visitors.

Stephen Crichton collected a neat Nathan Cleary grubber to open the scoring in just the 5th minute.

The lead was extended soon after, with half-turn-centre Matt Burton charging onto a scintillating pass from Jarome Luai.

While some feared a long night, Starford To'a had other ideas.

Returning to first grade after a week out of the team, To'a found space off the back of a clutch Kurt Mann offload, racing 50 metres and brushing off Dylan Edwards to hit back for the Knights.

To'a with the big don't argue on Edwards

The second stanza begun with the Knights again firmly camped in their own end, with Penrith's relentless line speed keeping them in their own red zone.

While opportunities were scarce for the Knights, they were coming in abundance for the home side.

Wingers Brian To'o and Charlie Stains were only denied by brilliant scramble defence, while Enari Tuala produced one of the tackles of the season on a flying Burton.

The Penrith young gun should've extended the lead when Luai burst through, only to lose it with the line wide open.

There's no doubt it had the packed crowd feeling nervous.

In the end, a Nathan Cleary penalty was the only trouble the scorers had heading into the final 15 minutes of the game.

The weight of possession did eventually show, with Dylan Edwards crossing off a scrum play in the 69th minute.

With that, the floodgates threatened to open.

To'o cruised over untouched with five minutes to play, icing another impressive win for the home side.

While the score may not have reflected the tightness of the contest, there's no doubting the Panthers simply proved too good on the night, cementing their place at the top of the NRL table with a perfect 7/7 record.