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Rookie Report: Young Knights test themselves against competition heavyweights

The nib Newcastle Knights Knock-On-Effect NSW Cup side fought a valiant battle against the top of the table Penrith Panthers last Thursday at BlueBet Stadium, but succumb to a 19-6 loss.

The match was on a knives edge heading into the crunch part of the game, however the Panthers pulled away in the latter stages of the second half.

An outstanding solo try from Liam Wilkinson was the sole try-scoring moment for the team after a heavy defensive workload for the most of the game.

Coach Andrew Ryan was proud of his team's effort in defence and praised Penrith for their quality.

"They're a very good football side with plenty of quality in their team," Ryan said.

"Super proud of our guys with the amount of goal-line defence they had to do.

"That try just off the back of half-time really hurt us but they can hold their heads high.

"If we can hang onto that spirit and effort, it will go a long way to winning more footy games this season."

Panthers v Knights NSW Cup Highlights Round 7

The side made an extra 77 tackles compared to the Panthers.

There were a few standouts in the gritty defeat as fullback McKenzie Baker made a team-high 152 running metres.

Mat Croker ran for 128 metres which included 60 post-contact metres and made 50 tackles.

Luke Huth topped the tackle count with 65.

"I thought McKenzie Baker was really good for us," Ryan said.

"Harry Van Dartel was superb on the wing and Zac Hosking got our player's player, he does his job every week.

"Mat Croker played 60 odd minutes in the middle so there was certainly some big efforts."

The side now sits in seventh with three wins and three losses.

The team will prepare to take on the North Sydney Bears this Saturday at 5:00pm in a pre-cursor to the NRL game.

The Bears currently sit third on the ladder while coach Ryan is eager to return home after a tough, recent schedule.

"We came off the back of a five-day turnaround," Ryan said.

"We play at home again after a few games on the road which is exciting."