Knights, injuries combine to deepen Panthers woes
Newcastle have prevailed in an 8-6 struggle over Penrith Panthers in front of 15,536 fans at Hunter Stadium tonight.
In a contest that didn't reach many heights, Newcastle were the first side to hold onto the ball following a sloppy opening to the game. From a scrum, James McManus evaded one tackle and found open air on his way to the try-line.
Neither team were able to hold onto the ball but Newcastle were again on the board when Penrith conceded a penalty for interfering in the ruck. Gidley stepped up and made it 8-0.
Penrith had a few opportunities to cross the stripe following their barren patch with a 32nd minute no try to Tim Grant after a driving effort by his team-mates kept them scoreless for another half.
The drought continued well into the second half with Penrith having chances but no penetration. Finally in the 69th minute, they crossed the stripe.
Luke Walsh put up a towering bomb that was spilled by Darius Boyd right into the waiting hands of Sika Manu who has become a try-scoring regular in a struggling side.
Panthers though, lacking troops and ideas weren't able to get a second score to get a victory and Newcastle continued their unbeaten home start to 2013.
There will be a multitude of injury problems for the Panthers though: Wes Naiqama, Travis Robertson, Josh Mansour and Cameron Ciraldo going off injured.
Newcastle Knights 8 Penrith Panthers 6
Venue: Newcastle International Sports Centre
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - James McManus
2 points - Robbie Rochow
1 point - Dean Whare
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (8)
Tries: James McManus
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Kurt Gidley (1/1)
PENRITH PANTHERS (6)
Tries: Sika Manu
Conversions: Luke Walsh (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Welcome to LeagueUnlimited.com's LIVE COVERAGE from Hunter Stadium as the Newcastle Knights host the Penrith Panthers. A host of changes for the visitors, most notability is Luke Walsh returning after being dropped to NSW Cup last week.
Knights - Joseph Leilua will start in the centres for the Knights, Alex McKinnon shifts to the bench. Danny Buderus out, Travis Waddell replaces him on the bench
1. Darius Boyd 2. James McManus 19 Joey Leilua 4. Timana Tahu 5. Akuila Uate 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Tyrone Roberts 8. Kade Snowden 9. Kurt Gidley (c) 10. Willie Mason 11. Robbie Rochow 12. Chris Houston 13. Jeremy Smith
Interchange: 3. Alex McKinnon 16. Adam Cuthbertson 17. David Fa'alogo 18. Travis Waddell
Panthers - Luke Walsh and Matt Robinson IN; Blake Austin, Brad Tighe OUT; Tim Grant, Clint Newton and Adam Docker start. McKendry, Ciraldo bench
1. Dean Whare 2. Josh Mansour 3. Wes Naiqama 12. Lewis Brown 5. David Simmons 6. Tom Humble 19. Luke Walsh 17. Tim Grant 9. Kevin Kingston (C) 10. Nigel Plum 11. Sika Manu 15. Clint Newton 14. Adam Docker
Interchange: 8. Sam McKendry 13. Cameron Ciraldo 16. James Segeyaro 18. Matt Robinson
1 min: Here come Penrith onto the field, looking to arrest a five game losing streak away. They are followed by the Knights who get a generous roar from the crowd and will run left to right. Penrith kick-off and HERE WE GO!
3 min: First error against the Knights who try to throw the cut-out but it dribbles out.
5 min: Willie tries to link with one of his fellow forwards but the pass goes astray. Scrum Penrith, 35 metres out.
6 min: No one wants the ball! First a low pass to Docker is spilled. Tyrone Roberts tries to launch a counter but passes it to a Penrith player.
7 min: Lewis Brown tries to get outside his man but is almost introduced to the sideline, knock on.
9 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Well that was slightly easy. From the scrum, one pass to McManus who breaks one tackle and is away! Naiqama gives a valiant chase but can't reel him in. Gidley from in front, splits the posts.
Scored by James McManus. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Newcastle Knights 6-0
10 min: PENALTY! First of the game, Sika Manu holding on too long. Knights head into the Penrith half.
11 min: Kurt Gidley tries to dart from dummy-half but spills it.
14 min: Jarrod Mullen grasps at a pass, thinking two plays ahead and spills it.
15 min: PENALTY Penrith! Jeremy Smith is too slow off Nigel Plum.
17 min: SIX MORE.. as Uate makes a mess of a bomb.
17 min: Short pass onto Plum but he can't hang on! Scrum Knights, 10 from their own line.
20 min: A random early tackle kick from Mullen hits a Penrith player and pounced on by Mansour who had to deal with a rampaging Uate.
21 min: It's been a sloppy game thus far, forward pass. Boyd to Tahu.
24 min: Mansour knocks on from the bomb handing Knights SIX MORE followed by a PENALTY for interfering in the ruck. Gidley opts for goal.
25 min: Besides the post, Gidley slots the easy penalty goal.
Newcastle Knights 8-0
31 min: PENALTY Knights. Lewis Brown has a second effort and is pinged.
32 min: Looping pass from Roberts is asking for Mansour to intercept and he does. He goes further earning a PENALTY! Can Penrith do something before halftime?
33 min: Nice stabbing kick from Luke Walsh earns his side a dropout.
34 min: POSSIBLE TRY.. Tim Grant. Checking for a driver.
34 min: NO TRY! Both Segeyaro and Ciraldo drove Grant across the try-line. PENALTY Knights.
35 min: Followed by a PENALTY for a strip.
37 min: Luke Walsh again providing some go forward for the Panthers, first almost sending his centre away then earning another dropout with a grubber.
39 min: Penrith have an opening here and Whare tries to find his winger. He only succeeded in finding the cameraman.
40 min: HALFTIME in an uninspiring game of football.
41 min: Knights kick-off and here we go again!
43 min: Luke Walsh sees some space behind the defensive line, chips for himself but gets a wicked bounce. His pass is forward though.
44 min: POSSIBLE TRY! Robbie Rochow but we're checking the knock-on.
44 min: NO TRY! Knock on Newcastle. Scrum Penrith.
44 min: Innocuous drop ball by McKinnon there.
49 min: Some pinball there but it comes out to a knock-on by Newcastle. Dropout.
51 min: Walsh again stabs it through and Tahu aided by a slip in trapped in goal. Another set for the Panthers.
52 min: Surprise! Another knock on, Penrith have had 28 tackles in the Knights 20 and have duck egg to show for it atm.
54 min: Newcastle are just throwing the ball around for no reason here, another knock on. Penrith again with a good opportunity.
57 min: PENALTY! Knights player offside.
59 min: Jarrod Mullen off a long run from Roberts earns Newcastle a repeat set.
61 min: Crossfield kick from Mullen is batted forward by Simmons and thus offside. PENALTY Knights.
61 min: Mason on a third consectutive hit-up spills his lollies.
64 min: Twp indignities for Robertson, hammered in the tackle and loses the ball. Time off while he receives attention.
64 min: Not a good sight, Travis Robertson heading off on a stretcher. Back to matters, it is a PENALTY to Penrith for a head slam and Smith is on report.
67 min: Kingston called up on a 50/50 forward pass.
68 min: A good hit from Dean Whare who puts Darius Boyd in his place. Last and the ball trickles dead with Josh Mansour landing awkwardly on his ankle, garnering attention.
69 min: POSSIBLE TRY! Sika Manu, checking onside.
69 min: TRY PENRITH PANTHERS
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! After 165 minutes, Penrith have a TRY. Luke Walsh put up a towering bomb that floats enough to force Boyd to drop the ball and Sika Manu is right on cue to plant it down. Walsh slams it over.
Scored by Sika Manu. Conversion attempt by Luke Walsh successful.
Newcastle Knights 8-6
71 min: Tom Humble has effectively moved to fullback with Mansour struggling. Humble is dragged back after fielding the ball.
76 min: Panthers find some space but can't capitalise. Houston pops up and intercepts the ball.
78 min: Rochow down, head clash.
80 min: FULLTIME! Newcastle rake it in-field forcing Penrith to go the length but Uate has Simmons and sends him into touch.