Penrith Panthers outlasted and outsmarted the Newcastle Knights by 29 – 18 on a cold and windy night at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium, the Panthers now sit out right second on the ladder whilst Newcastle have lost ground in a logged jammed battle for a top 8 spot.
With both sides struggling to start games well so far in 2018 early points were always going to be vital and it was the Panthers who were first out of the blocks scoring through Regan Campbell-Gillard in the third minute. After conceding two early tries last week against the Rabbitohs, Knights’ coach Nathan Brown would have torn his hair out if he had any left after his side conceded another soft try this time through Tyrone Peachey to give the Panthers a 12-0 lead.
As Newcastle started to get their share of field possession Connor Watson finished off a slick move to get the Knights on the board, Watson turned from hero to villain after bombing two tries for the Knights, firstly by impeding the Panthers’ marker to deny a try under the posts and secondly after making a break his misguided pass was picked up by Peachey who beat numerous defenders before sending Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over to give Penrith the lead 18-0 at halftime.
Despite crossing for the first try of the second half Newcastle never got close to catching the Panthers as NSW Origin half James Maloney took control of the game kicking a field goal, a penalty goal and laying on a try for second rower Corey Harawira-Naera with a pin point chip kick. Newcastle scored a late consolation try but the result was already decided, Penrith controlled the game from the outset and once again showed their premiership credentials despite their hefty injury toll.
Peachey Shines in Indigenous Week
Round 11 of the NRL season is Indigenous Round and it was one of the competition’s premier Indigenous players who starred for the Panthers, Tyrone Peachey was in everything in the first half and scored the Panthers’ second try after taking advantage of some poor Knights’ ruck defence to cross the line for a great individual try. He then picked up a loose pass from the Knights when it looked like they were about to score and turned defence into attack by putting Watene-Zelezniak in for a try. Despite a quieter second half Peachey shone for the Panthers and for the Indigenous community.
It was an unhappy night for another of the Indigenous Stars of the game Connor Watson who despite crossing for the Knights’ first try of the game, had a night he’d rather forget. After scoring that first try the Knights had all the momentum of the game and after supporting a line-break from Lachlan Fitzgibbon Watson was tackled ten metres out from the Panthers’ line. After a nice inside ball from Brock Lamb sent Daniel Saifiti over for a try it looked like the game would be tied up, before the Bunker found that Watson had impeded the marker to deny the try. Soon after Watson again supported a Fitzgibbon break before he threw that loose pass that led to the Watene-Zelezniak try. These horror few minutes for Watson were sadly the plays that killed off the Knights’ chances.
Since Nathan Cleary went down in Round 3 James Maloney has picked his game up and taken it to new heights for the Panthers leading them around the park, for a natural instinct player like Maloney the role to steer the side around is a new one, but one he has excelled at. Last night when it seemed the Knights might be mounting a comeback after the Kalyn Ponga try, Maloney took control of the match using his game awareness and astute kicking game to starve Newcastle of possession and extend the Panthers’ lead. Maloney’s field goal gave them breathing room before his perfect kick for Harawira-Naera clinched the match, the purchase of Maloney is looking like very good business by the Panthers.
Brown takes aim
Nathan Brown’s post match press conferences are the best and most insightful throughout the game as he takes time to answer all questions thoroughly, Brown has also protected his young players from scrutiny in the past but yesterday he uncharacteristically singled out three members of his side for crucial errors. Brown seemed very upset with the ill-discipline of his side and lamented the key moments where errors cost the team, maybe the fact this season that the Knights are competitive but are letting themselves down is weighing on Brown compared to other years when the result of the match wasn’t always his biggest concern. Either way expect Brown to wield the axe again come Tuesday after making numerous changes last week.
Tries: Campbell-Gillard, Peachey, Watene-Zelezniak, Harawira-Naera
Goals: Maloney 6/6 Drop Goals: Maloney
Tries: Watson, Ponga, Ross
Goals: Lamb 2/2, Sio 1/1
Drop Goals: N/A
Knights: 1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Nathan Ross, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6 Connor Watson, 7 Brock Lamb, 8 Herman Ese’ese, 9 Slade Griffin, 10 Josh King, 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12 Mitchell Barnett, 13 Aidan Guerra (c), 14 Danny Levi, 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Luke Yates, 17 Daniel Saifiti,
Panthers: 1 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2 Christian Crichton, 3 Isaah Yeo, 4 Dean Whare, 5 Tyrone Phillips, 6 Tyrone Peachey, 7 James Maloney, 8 Trent Merrin, 9 Peter Wallace (c), 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11 Viliame Kikau, 12 Corey Harawira-Naera, 13 James Fisher-Harris, 14 Sione Katoa, 15 Kaide Ellis, 16 James Tamou, 17 Jarome Luai