Knights valiant over the Panthers in the first draw of the year

Newcastle Knights prop Daniel Saifiti

The 50th meeting between the two clubs produced the most exciting finish of the round and one in which Newcastle Knights should be proud of their efforts against the Penrith Panthers.

While both clubs were missing key personnel due to various issues, it was still considered a close contest before kick-off.

Newcastle endured the worst of starts with their inspirational captain, Mitchell Pearce getting knocked out in the first 5 minutes.

Then 3 minutes later Connor Watson had his right ankle snap back when it got caught in the ground.

Both players were ruled out for the rest of the match and with Ponga and Brailey already out prior, they lost three of their four first-choice spine.

This left Tex Hoy, Kurt Mann, Brodie Jones and Chris Randall in the key positions with all but Mann on debut.

Penrith started strong and with the unbelievable bad luck against Newcastle they asserted their dominance for the majority of the first 40.

Newcastle’s poor handling gave the ball back to Penrith on one too many occasions after a poor attacking Newcastle set.

Penrith marched down the field easily with Koroisau controlling the ruck with his influence from dummy half leading to the first 2 tries of the game.

He set up Kikau on the left edge to run over the top of a few Knights defenders and then Capewell on the right.

Knights were brave all half with nothing going their way but their resilience was rewarded with a soft try under the posts to Jacob Saifiti.

Penrith led 14-6 at halftime.

The second half started off uneventfully with both sides trading blows evenly until Penrith set up camp on the Knights try line for five straight sets.

Newcastle defended gallantly and turned the tide of the game by getting a 20-metre restart and went the length of the field for a try to booming back, Bradman Best.

The Knights continued to fight and scrap in every tackle and again came out on top with another try to Best from an Edrick Lee kick regather.

Hoy missed his second goal kick of the day, leaving scores tied with 10 to go.

Both sides missed a few relatively easy opportunities for a field goal in regulation time and with the scores tied we had out first golden point game of the round.

Golden point started with a length of the field set from Penrith which led to the unluckiest of ends.

Burton’s attempt hit the right post and bounced back into Korisau’s hands, who was in an offside position.

Newcastle then bombed their own opportunity to win.

Hoy set up Best in a 2 on 1 position, 10 meters from the try line but a poor pass hit the ground rather than his winger for the win.

The game finished in a draw as both teams’ lack of experience led to pressure getting the better of them in key moments.

Considering the players that were out for Newcastle and the way their forwards stood up in the game they would be the happier of the two sides.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary praised youngster Matt Burton for taking on the responsibility late in the game.

“I thought he was really brave and kept standing up,” Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said of second-gamer Burton.

“I’ve seen plenty of kids with either field goals or goalkicks when they’re not going so well hand it over to someone else.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Daniel Saifiti (NEW)

2. David Klemmer (NEW)

1. Apisai Koroisau (PEN)

Newcastle Knights prop David Klemmer

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