Newcastle have finished with the wooden spoon after being shut out in the second half of their 30-12 NRL defeat to Penrith.
The Knights led 12-8 at halftime but, led by Dean Whare and Tyrone Peachey, the Panthers crossed for four tries to none on Saturday afternoon in a dominant second-half performance.
Despite missing 10 regular first-graders, the Panthers staved off a last-place finish with a hearty performance in front of a crowd of 8936, temporarily lifting themselves to 11th spot on the ladder.
For the Knights, the spoon sums up a disappointing campaign including the sacking of coach Rick Stone.
It was also the final Knights’ match for Super League-bound skipper Kurt Gidley.
Penrith’s Chris Smith opened the scoring for the home side when he sliced through some arm-grabbing defence in the 5th minute, before the lively fullback kicked them out to an 8-0 lead with a penalty goal.
Stand-in skipper David Simmons almost pulled off a miracle try in his farewell match but planted the ball on the in-goal line.
The Knights slowly began to turn momentum and it was retiring forward Clint Newton who posted first points for the visitors, crashing over from close range for his first try in almost two years.
Then fullback Jake Mamo gave his side a 12-8 lead at the break when he soared to take a Tyrone Roberts kick in the 37th minute.
Penrith centre Whare, who was a late inclusion in the side, regained the lead when he steamed onto an inside ball in the 46th minute.
The Knights threatened to hit back when Panthers debutant Smith intercepted a Roberts pass and ran 70 metres, before Peachey leapt over on the next play.
A brawl erupted in the 65th minute when Newcastle’s Nathan Ross dumped Whare on his head without the ball, before Panthers winger Josh Mansour put the result beyond doubt five minutes later.
A 77th-minute try to Peachey sealed the win, giving the retiring Simmons a goal in his 200th and final match of his NRL career.
Newcastle forward Tariq Sims was put on report for a shoulder charge early in the first half.