Punches thrown as flustered Panthers' top-four hopes almost KO'd
Advertisement

Punches thrown as flustered Panthers' top-four hopes almost KO'd

Four players were sent to the sin bin for fighting as Penrith suffered a shock 20-12 loss to Newcastle in front of a big home crowd on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers' hopes of a miracle comeback for a fourth straight week never looked like happening, with frustrations spilling over in the wild west four minutes from full-time when Billy Kikau and Tyrone May were given 10 minutes for throwing punches during a wild brawl.

Newcastle pair Danny Levi and Shaun Kenny-Dowall were also given their marching orders before copping even more abuse from the locals as they made their way up the tunnel.

One Penrith supporter who caught a ball in the crowd and then pegged it back at the Knights bench was evicted, only to be given a standing ovation as he was led out of the ground.

It was one of the few times the healthy 14,125 crowd had reason to celebrate.

Advertisement
Silly season: A Panthers fan is ejected from the ground after allegedly throwing a ball at the head of Knights player Aiden Guerra.

Silly season: A Panthers fan is ejected from the ground after allegedly throwing a ball at the head of Knights player Aiden Guerra.

Photo: AAP

Penrith blew their top-four hopes and only had themselves to blame.

A win would have almost assured them a top-four spot on the ladder and the all-important two chances during September.

But they completed at just 59 per cent in the first half and their attack was clunky for most of the afternoon.

The loss of James Maloney can never be underestimated. The three miracle wins against Manly, Canberra and the Gold Coast covered up bigger problems at the foot of the mountains.

Satisfaction: Mitchell Pearce heads to the sheds after steering the Knights to victory.

Satisfaction: Mitchell Pearce heads to the sheds after steering the Knights to victory.

Photo: AAP

Coach Cameron Ciraldo said he may have to tinker with his starting line-up, and frustration crept in late.

"There was definitely frustration out there, but that's no excuse to be involved in that [fight],'' Ciraldo said.

"I didn't see who started it but we need to be better than that and keep our cool.

"I'm not sure of the consequences, but it would be disappointing to lose anybody to suspension.''

Loading

Ciraldo said the two weeks on the road to the New Zealand Warriors and then Melbourne could be ''the making of our season''.

"We need to turn it around quickly, what's done is done and we have two weeks to turn it around,'' he said.

"We have two tough away trips, but it might be the making of our season going away and being around each other and ripping in. Two good performances can hopefully put us on the right track.''

Despite having one of the most exciting rosters in the competition, Penrith are yet to show any signs they are about to click into gear any time soon.

The Knights deserved the victory and Mitchell Pearce's kicking game into a strong breeze in the second half was all class.

Loading

The Kalyn Ponga five-eighth experiment also had plenty of positives, with the Knights pin-up taking the ball to the line and laying on a lovely try for Cory Denniss.

It was the Knights' ninth win of the season and they will expect even more next year.

For Penrith, it was not the farewell Tyrone Peachey would have had in mind as he played his last home game for the club.

Penrith forced a dropout and had one last attacking set before half-time, but it ended with Peachey kicking the ball straight down the throat of Nick Meaney.

Tries to Aidan Guerra and Denniss gave the Knights a healthy early lead, but Corey Harawira-Naera forced Meaney to make an error and May scored the easiest of tries under the post.

Penrith then had some luck when Nathan Cleary launched a long kick that did not hold up in the wind, and Harawira-Naera forced the ball free from Meaney.

The fight was not a good look but it was nothing more than players flustered by the shock loss.

Waqa Blake almost kick-started proceedings again when he whispered a few words to Levi as he made his way from the field.