Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
29 hours ago
The Penrith Panthers have traveled to Newcastle defeating the Knights 29-16 to keep their impressive season on track.
Despite some early nerves Penrith struck first with some expansive football resulting in a try to Luke Lewis. The momentum shifted soon after which was to be the story of the match.
The Knights hit back with Tahu running in three tries. The NSW winger was helped along by his partner in crime Matt Gidley setting him up with some good ball and a couple of trademark flick passes.
There will be a thank you card in Andrew Johns' mailbox in the morning as a poor kick-off gave the Panthers great field position. What resulted was the Panthers scoring their second try in the space of five minutes going into halftime, the Knights leading by just 16-12 at the break.
The Panthers opened up the second half with two more tries to extend their lead out to six points. The momentum wasn't to last as they fell into a cold patch.
Newcastle turned up the heat but the Penrith defensive line refused to be cracked stepping up to the responsibilities that go with the top of the table spot. They then turned things around and went down field with Gower kicking a field goal and then Whatuira scoring to rap up the match.
The win for Penrith sees them at the top of the table for another week and puts them on good money to take the minor premiership. Newcastle on the other hand could find themselves out of the top eight by the end of the weekend and on a slippery slide down hill.
Scorers: KNIGHTS 16 Tries: 3 Tahu Goals: Johns 2/3 defeated by PANTHERS 29 Tries: 2 Rooney, 2 Whatuira, Lewis, Waterhouse Goals: Girdler 2/6, Gower F/G
Friday 18 July 2003 7:30 PM EnergyAustralia Stadium Referee: T Mander
LeagueUnlimited's Player of the Year Awards: 3 - C Gower (Panthers) 2 - T Tahu (Knights) 1 - S Sattler (Panthers)
By the clock: 0 min: Kickoff!
7th min: NEWS - Its been a bit of a nervous start for the Panthers with the Knights looking sharp despite having several origin stars backing up.
9th min: TRY - Panthers. The Panthers spread the ball across the back line playing simple catch and pass. Lewis received the ball in open space and sprinted down the touchline beating Johns, O'Davis and MacDougall to score. Girdler fails to convert - Panthers 4-0.
16th min: NEWS - The tide has turned very quickly in this contest. The Panthers nerves are gone and they are starting to play their attacking brand of football. The Knights need to get some of their composure back.
18th min: TRY - Knights. The Knights prospered from some broken field play and keeping the ball alive. Tahu eventually ran onto a MacDougall backhanded flick and stretched out to score under the posts. Johns converts - Knights 6-0.
25th min: NEWS - Both sides in the opening stages of this match are showing a clear intent to attack which is serving up a great match to this point.
29th min: TRY - Knights. Its the best known move in the game and Newcastle have used their trump card again with the Gidley flick to Tahu. Gidley got to the outside and passed to Tahu who stepped inside leaving Rooney clutching at thin air. Johns fails to convert - Knights 10-4.
31st min: TRY - Knights. The Knights spread the ball out wide and caught out Preston Campbell in no mans land opening up a hole. Gidley went straight through and threw a ball over the head of Rooney to Tahu for his hatrick. Johns converts - Knights 16-4.
36th min: NEWS - Newcastle have really lifted the tempo now. The Panthers will be desperate not to Concede any more points going into halftime.
38th min: TRY - Panthers. Gower took a quick tap and passed to Girdler who drew in several Newcastle defenders and offloaded to Rooney who scored in the corner. The video referee was asked to check if Rooney touched the corner post but gave the green light. Girdler fails to convert - Knights 16-8.
39th min: NEWS - Joe Galuvao is on the sideline with a corked thigh. Its not known if he'll return in the match.
40th min: TRY - Panthers. Right on half time the Panthers got a chance on the Knights line. They only got down there thanks to a poor Andrew Johns kick off. The Panthers spread the ball wide until it found Whatuira who went over in the corner. Girdler fails to convert - Knights 16-12.
Halftime: The momentum is shifting quite regularly in this match. The Knights looked to be running away with it at one stage but two quick tries close to the break have brought the Panthers back into the contest. Halftime score - Knights 16-12.
41st min: The second half is under way!
44th min: TRY - Panthers. Gower drew in a defender and sent Waterhouse through a gap and the big unit stretched out to score. Girdler converts - Panthers 18-16.
50th min: NEWS - Galuvao took a heavy knock in defence and was on the ground for several minutes. Hes back up though and in the defensive line.
54th min: TRY - Panthers. Girdler put up a bomb and Rooney out jumped Tahu to come down with the ball and score. Girdler fails to convert - Panthers 22-16.
59th min: NEWS - Newcastle are really starting to turn up the heat again. This is a bit of a problem in the Panthers game, their tendency to go through hot and cold patches within a match.
60th min: NO TRY - Tahu took several Panthers defenders over the line but there were a couple of hands under the ball. The video referee ruled refs call and Tim Mander ruled that Tahu had been held up and a 10 metre scrum with the Knights feed.
62nd min: NEWS - There's a lot of talk that the Panthers don't have the defence to win this competition but they have just defused everything the Knights have thrown at them in the last 10 minutes. The likes of the Roosters and Broncos would struggle to contain this much pressure.
63rd min: NO TRY - An Andrew Johns kick hit the posts and bounced back for Kurt Gidley who went over the line. It went to the video referee and it was evident Gidley had lost the ball. The video referee ruled no try and a 20 metre restart to the Panthers.
64th min: NEWS - Wesser has hit Quinn with a swinging arm around the neck. He could find himself in a bit of trouble at the judiciary during the week.
70th min: FIELD GOAL - The Panthers were waiting for the field position, Gower picked his moment and kicked a vital field goal - Panthers 23-16.
76th min: NEWS - The Panthers are now controlling these closing stages. Newcastle will regret not being able to take advantage of any of their earlier opportunities.
78th min: TRY - Panthers. Gower gave Whatuira a great ball and the Panthers centre went over to well and truly rap the match up. Girdler converts - Panthers 29-16.
79th min: NEWS - The official attendance for the match is 19,246.
Fulltime: The Panthers absorbed a mountain of pressure in the second half but held on and their run continues. Fulltime score - Panthers 29-16.