In a slow, dogged, determined affair, the Penrith Panthers have prevailed over the Newcastle Knights 16-14.
As the momentum ebbed and flowed, both teams struggled to get a stranglehold on the game.
Two penalty goals were the only points for a while with scores locked at 2-all.
It would be Penrith who got on the try scoresheet first, however, through forward James Fisher-Harris.
This did not last long as a cut-out pass from Kalyn Ponga found a flying Edrick Lee who flew over the line to score.
After a tough sideline conversion, Ponga and the Knights had the lead.
Penrith would hit back through new recruit Frank Winterstein shortly after. A crossfield kick found Malakai Watene-Zelezniak who batted it back for the second-rower to score.
The Panthers then extended their lead further when Isaah Yeo got a try of his own, despite leaving the field earlier due to concussion.
Not a team to write off, however, the Knights were committed to finding points and a win.
The points came when Mitch Barnett powered his way over near the posts to make for an interesting final minutes.
In the end, the Knights attack could not further penetrate the Penrith line as the Panthers scored their first win of the season.
Admitting that his side still does not have their mojo, Cleary wants his side to learn how to put sides to the sword.
“When we got to 16-8, I really felt we could have gone on with it a bit more, but we couldn’t get that done and ended up giving me a few more grey hairs by the end of the game,” the Penrith coach said.
“But we got there in the end.
“We’re still trying to find our groove as a team.
“The boys have played together for a bit but obviously with a new coach, we’re doing things slightly differently.”
Knights coach Nathan Brown believes his side played relatively well but lacked the finesse and finishing in key moments.
“I just thought there were a couple of key moments, and they came up with those big plays and we didn’t come up with them,” Brown said post-match.
“Last week, we came up with them and we beat a very good side, and this week we didn’t quite come up with them and we just went down to a very good side, and that’s pretty much where I saw the game.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. James Tamou
2. Nathan Cleary
- Mitch Barnett