Penrith Panthers 30 (J Mansour 2, E Taylor, A Docker, J Latimore tries; P Wallace 4, J Soward goals)
Newcastle Knights 8 (B Scott try; K Gidley, T Roberts goals)
Penrith opened their National Rugby League premiership campaign with a solid 30-8 victory over Newcastle at SportingBet Stadium.
The home side were down 8-6 at the main break but took advantage of injuries to Knights stars Darius Boyd (hamstring), Kurt Gidley (concussion) and Tyrone Roberts (concussion) in scoring four second half tries.
Josh Mansour scored a double for the Panthers. After a shaky start when it appeared the flyer spilled a ball from a kick return that was luckily ruled play on by the officials, Mansour played dangerously with the touchline before taking a leap of faith in scoring his second try for the afternoon. His back to back tries in a five minute period extended the Panthers advantage to 18-6.
Adam Docker’s rampaging run at the try line with eighteen minutes remaining left Roberts with concussion, and the try scorer with a heavily taped nose for the rest of the game. Jeremy Latimore sealed the win after chasing through a kick ahead of a tired Knights side.
In an even first half Penrith crossed the line first through Peter Wallace, only to be upheld on the video replay where Lewis Brown was guilty of holding back a defender from preventing the try.
For the lack of possession in the Panthers red-zone, Newcastle broke the stalemate at the thirty-second minute with Beau Scott finding space to open the scoring. Off-season recruit Elijah Taylor replied five minutes later, before a long range penalty goal from Roberts gave the visitors a two point lead going into the break.
Penrith’s intent was there from kick-off. Willie Mason took the ball up and was driven back to his own line. While Mansour scored a double, credit must be paid to Matt Moylan. Moylan was safe at fullback, and showed desperation to prevent a 40/20 kick. Nigel Plum and Adam Docker continued to be solid in defence. Panther fans need not complain about the halves combination of Wallace and Soward. Soward’s 40/20 kick early in the second half was the catalyst for turning the game in Penrith’s favour.
Newcastle, depleted at half time with only fifteen fit players were gallant despite the score line. They missed the direction that injured playmaker Jarrod Mullen would have provided in attack. It was clear from the start that the Knights were keen to keep Penrith down their own half and to force mistakes. However they weren’t able to take advantage, particularly in the first half when the opportunities were present.