NRL round 10Newcastle Knights suffer 29-18 loss at home to Penrith Panthers.

KNIGHTS coach Nathan Brown admitted his team were outmuscled and outsmarted on Friday night by a Penrith outfit he expects to progress deep into the play-offs.
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DISAPPOINTED: The Knights ponder another Penrith try. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The injury-hit Panthers, minus big names Nathan Cleary (knee), Josh Mansour (cheek), Waqa Blake (ankle), Sam McKendry (knee), Dylan Edwards (shoulder) and Moses Leota (pectoral), won 29-18 at McDonald Jones Stadium to climb to second on the ladder.

Brown felt his players put in enough effort to win, but he was left ruing some costlymoments of ill-discipline, in particular a penalty in possession that robbedNewcastle of a try.

He also felt the Knights struggled to cope withthe sheer size of Penrith’s forwards and their aggressive line speed.

“The team that beat us tonight, I think Penrith will be playing very late in September if they can have a bit of luck with injury,” Brown said.

“I think they’ll be going a long way into the back end of the year, so we never got beaten by dummies.

“But it’s the way with which we lost that disappoints me. Our younger players …they’ve got to understand what they’re doing to the team when they do those poor acts of discipline.”

In particular, Brown was shaking his head at a30th-minute brain snap by five-eighth Connor Watson that proved a turning point.

Watson scored Newcastle’s opening try to get them back in the game after the Panthersraced to a 12-0 lead, but 10 minutes later he was penalised for impeding Penrith defender Tyrone Phillips, just when Daniel Saifiti appeared to have crashed over the line.

Three minutes later, Watson threw a wayward pass that was intercepted by Penrith five-eighth Tyrone Peachey, who broke clear and sent fullback Dallin Watene-Zalezniak over to score.

A possible 12-all scoreline instead became 18-6 to the visitors at half-time.

The Knights rallied after the interval, and when halfback Brock Lamb created a try for fullback Kalyn Ponga in the 54thminute, it was a six-point ball game.

But then Panthers playmaker James Maloney kicked a field goal, a penalty and set up a try forCorey Harawira-Naera to leave the Knights facing an insurmountable task. “If Jimmy Maloney was playing for us, we probably would have won,” Brown said.

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