Top of the ladder, the Penrith Panthers, were first up in round seven of the NRL as they looked to extend their lead at the top to four points with a victory over the Newcastle Knights at the BlueBet Stadium.
The Panthers went into the game with the leagues only unbeaten record in 2021 but the Knights would have been chanting the mantra all week that that Penrith must lose at some point, and why not tonight.
Over the years there has been very little to choose between these two sides and last time out was no exception as the sides drew 14-14 when ten minutes of golden point extra time finished without a point being scored.
The Panthers got off to a terrific start when they went over after four minutes after Stephen Crichton chased down a Nathan Cleary grubber kick to go between two defenders to dive over. Cleary couldn’t add the conversion.
On nineteen minutes Matt Burton doubled the Panthers lead as he took a flat ball from Jarome Luai fifteen from the line and went through a big gap in the Newcastle defence. Cleary was accurate with the kick this time for 10-0.
A superb solo try from Starford To’a got Newcastle right back in the game with a sixty metre effort, outpacing the Penrith defence and fending off the last line tackler, after taking the Kurt Mann pass. Kalyn Ponga added the conversion for 6-10 with thirty minutes on the clock.
The Knights had put up a great fight against a Penrith side who are running hot and ensured that they went into the second forty still with a chance to the win.
Burton went close on forty-nine after taking a miracle pass, but the Newcastle defence held strong and prevented the score.
Both sides bombed gilt edged chances before Cleary kicked a penalty goal to extend the Panthers lead to 12-6. It was the sign for Penrith to kcik on.
A scrum base try sealed the Penrith win, their seventh on the bounce at the start of the season, as Isaah Yeo picked the ball up from the back row and passed to Dylan Edwards who leapt to ground by the right upright. Cleary smacked the conversion between the uprights for 18-6 with just over ten left on the clock.
With five minutes left on the clock Viliame Kikau found Brian To’o on the overlap wide left and the winger delighted the big crowd with a summersault try by the corner flag. Cleary kicked his fourth goal of the night for 24-6.
The Panthers made it seven from seven as they went four points clear at the top of the table. Despite Newcastle giving them a real game in the first forty, the second half belonged to Penrith who scored a couple of great tries to pull away and take the win.
Penrith Panthers: Edwards (T), Staines, Crichton (T), Burton (T), To’o (T), Luai, Cleary (4G), Leota, Kenny, Fisher-Harris, Kikau, Martin, Yeo. Subs: May, Leniu, Eisenhuth, Jennings. 18th: Jennings.
Newcastle Knights: Ponga (G), To’a (T), Tuala, Best, Musgrove, Mann, Green, Klemmer, Brailey, Saifiti D, Frizell, Barnett, Watson. Subs: Sue, Saifiti J, King, Jones. 18th: Shibasaki.
Referee: Gerrard Sutton.
Score Progression: 4-0, 8-0, 10-0, 10-4, 10-6 : HT : 12-6, 16-6, 18-6, 22-6, 24-6 : FT.