Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has accused some of his players of giving up during the second half of his side’s 42-6 loss to Penrith, which condemned the Knights to 15 consecutive NRL losses.
The Knights had the lion’s share of possession in the first-half on Sunday afternoon, but managed to score only once as the Panthers’ scrambling goal-line defence repelled wave after wave of attack.
But in the second stanza, the Panthers blew the Knights off Hunter Stadium, scoring six unanswered tries to claim an important win that separated them from the logjam at the bottom of the NRL top eight.
Brown was highly critical of his team’s performance, saying it was one of the worst in the Knights’ 15-game losing stretch.
“It’s probably up there with one other performance as our most disappointing this year,” Brown said.
“I feel we’ve been making some decent progress of late.
“But in the second half I thought there were times where we actually gave up, which is really disappointing and not good for anyone involved, I don’t think.
“When I say I think we gave up, there have been times during the year where we’ve just been physically beat up and you can accept that a score blows out.”
Fullback Matt Moylan broke a 6-6 halftime deadlock in the 44th minute when he ran off a Peter Wallace pass and touched down under the posts.
From there the floodgates opened, with Waqa Blake (55th minute) and Tyrone Peachey (59th minute) each beating some flimsy Knights defence to take the score out to 18-6.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored a second-half double and Mansour grabbed his second as the siren sounded.
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin said the win was all the more crucial given it was a weekend of NRL upsets.
“This time of year, if you’re in contention every week is important,” he said.
“It’s like you’re playing semi-finals early and the prize gets a bit bigger and bigger every week.