A solid second half has led the Penrith Panthers to a 24-8 victory in their season opening clash against Newcastle today in front of 11,369 fans at Sportingbet Stadium.
The second stanza was a far cry from the opening of proceedings, with no points scored in the opening half hour. Penrith created plenty of opportunities inside Newcastle's half but continually failed to capitalise. The Knights took advantage of this after 33 minutes, with Beau Scott powering over the line to open the scoring.
Elijah Taylor responded for Penrith two minutes before halftime, Jamie Soward's conversion looked likely to send the teams to the sheds level... before a silly inside-the-ten penalty against them as they attempted a chip and chase on the siren gave Tyrone Roberts a penalty goal attempt - which he converted from 45m out. As a result Newcastle went to the break in front 8-6.
That was the last points Newcastle managed, with a dominant showing from Penrith in the second forty. Tries in the 43rd and 47th minutes shot the Panthers to an 18-8 lead and from there they were never headed. Josh Mansour was emphatic with two tries, while Adam Docker's second half try saw both he and Knights half Tyrone Roberts taken from the field with concussion after a nasty head clash.
Roberts wasn't the only concern for Newcastle - they finished the game with just fourteen men after first-choice fullback Darius Boyd went off with a hamstring complaint in the opening quarter of the game. Hooker-cum-fullback Kurt Gidley was next with suspected concussion nearer to halftime, while Roberts was taken off inside the final 20. The club will be hoping all three are ok for next week's home opener against Canberra, with Jarrod Mullen already facing months on the sideline after a hamstring injury at the Auckland Nines.
Penrith's injury ward is less concerning with pre-game omissions Jamal Idris and Tim Grant the concerns ahead of their trip to Melbourne next Saturday for a date with the Storm at AAMI Park.
PENRITH PANTHERS (30)
Tries: Elijah Taylor, Josh Mansour (2), Adam Docker, Jeremy Latimore
Field Goals: Peter Wallace (0/1)
Conversions: Jamie Soward (1/1), Peter Wallace (4/4)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (8)
Tries: Beau Scott
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Tyrone Roberts (1/1)