Penrith broke their point scoring drought but fell deeper into crisis on the field with a 34-14 loss to Newcastle at Hunter Stadium, the club’s fourth successive defeat.
But there was bigger news out of the contest with halfback Luke Walsh and centre Michael Jennings – the man who broke through for Penrith’s first try in more than 200 minutes of football – leaving the field with injuries.
Walsh suffered a knee problem and is likely to miss between four and six weeks with medial damage, while Jennings hurt his neck while trying to score a miracle try in the second half.
Captain Luke Lewis also left the field during the second half, with what appeared to be a shoulder problem.
It could leave Ivan Cleary struggling to field a team to play Melbourne next weekend with an already long injury list only adding to the headaches caused by his team’s ordinary effort on the field.
“It’s not feeling too good at the moment… it went dead about 20 minutes into the first half and I still can’t feel it,” Lewis told Triple M.
Jennings said of his injury: “Hopefully it’s not too bad… I’ll go see the doc and physio and see where we go from there.”
In an error-riddled contest in front of more than 16,000 fans, Newcastle got on the board first when a Brad Tighe error close to his own line saw James McManus score.
Jarrod Mullen crossed to extend the Knights’ lead to 10-0 before Michael Jennings produced a terrific solo effort to cross in the corner and reduce the margin to 10-4.
The Knights took their lead to 12 nine minutes before half-time when Zeb Taia crossed.
Any chance of a Panthers comeback was quashed when Timana Tahu scored a try against the run of play and Kurt Gidley crossed just three minutes later to open up an unassailable lead with 25 minutes to play.
Penrith would go on to score two tries – both through Clint Newton – but the Knights had already sealed the win.
They too had injury concerns with both Kurt Gidley and Danny Buderus leaving the field during the contest.
Penrith must now re-group quickly ahead of Saturday’s clash with the unbeaten Storm at Centrebet Stadium.
Earlier, Penrith’s Toyota Cup side beat the Knights 29-28 thanks to a field goal on the siren.