With all the hype and expectation swirling around his team, Knights coach Nathan Brown must have breathed a big sigh of relief after last week's gutsy victory over Cronulla.

It wasn't picture-perfect by any means, but it was a gritty win over an experienced, talented side and showed Brown the revamped Knights are prepared to tough it out.

Now comes the tricky bit - keeping the Knights playing at a high level for the next 24 rounds.

The Panthers are another coveted scalp but you'd have to think they'll be stinging to bounce back after being upstaged by Paramatta in round one.

Match: Knights v Panthers

Round 2 -

Full Time
Knights

Home Team

Knights

Scored 14 points
Panthers

Away Team

Panthers

Scored 16 points

Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: Herman Ese'ese replaces the injured Daniel Saifiti (knee) on the bench. Jamie Buhrer and Brodie Jones were omitted from the 21-man squad on Friday night.

Panthers: Malakai Watene-Zelezniak replaces Josh Mansour (shoulder) on the wing, Moses Leota starting at prop and Reagan Campbell-Gillard to come off the bench. Sione Katoa returns from concussion at hooker, with Wayde Egan moving to the bench and Jarome Luai out of the 17. Frank Winterstein replaces Tyrell Fuimaono on the interchange. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Connor Watson
    Fullback for Panthers is number 1 Dylan Edwards
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Edrick Lee
    Winger for Panthers is number 21 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Hymel Hunt
    Centre for Panthers is number 3 Dean Whare
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Panthers is number 4 Waqa Blake
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
    Winger for Panthers is number 5 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Kalyn Ponga
    Five-Eighth for Panthers is number 6 James Maloney
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Panthers is number 7 Nathan Cleary

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Panthers is number 8 James Tamou
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Danny Levi
    Hooker for Panthers is number 9 Sione Katoa
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 James Gavet
    Prop for Panthers is number 16 Moses Leota
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 11 James Fisher-Harris
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Sione Mata'utia
    2nd Row for Panthers is number 12 Isaah Yeo
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Tim Glasby
    Lock for Panthers is number 13 Hame Sele

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Kurt Mann
    Interchange for Panthers is number 10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Aidan Guerra
    Interchange for Panthers is number 14 Wayde Egan
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Mitchell Barnett
    Interchange for Panthers is number 15 Frank Winterstein
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Herman Ese'ese
    Interchange for Panthers is number 17 Jack Hetherington

Key match-up

Simply can't go past the heavyweight bout in the halves between three incumbent Origin players and one former Blues playmaker who has more Origin experience than the other three combined. The outcome of this game depends largely on the battle between Newcastle duo Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga and Panthers pair Nathan Cleary and James Maloney.

For the Knights to win

As mentioned Ponga and Pearce have to play starring roles, but they will only be able to make things happen if the likes of Dave Klemmer and his fellow big men create time and space by nullifying Penrith's forwards.

For the Panthers to win

As much as they might refute the theory, the Panthers didn't really show up in the first half against the Eels and paid the price. Slow starts plagued them last season and they better be ready to go against the improved Knights.

Brett Kimmorley says ...

Newcastle were great in completion rate and energy, and Mitchell Pearce controlled things with a great kicking game. I think David Klemmer is the leader and key for the Knights. If Klemmer keeps repeating that form, Mitchell Pearce can control things with a nice kicking game. Penrith hurt themselves last week with a bit of poor ball control and ill-discipline. If they can get themselves in front early it will really help. Knights by 2

Knights stat attack

David Klemmer had a huge impact in his team's first-round home win over the Sharks. The former Bulldogs prop had 20 runs for 218m, including 90 post-contact metres. He had 19 hit-ups and three off-loads and also racked up 33 tackles without a single miss.

Panthers stat attack

The conditions were bad but the Panthers only had themselves to blame for last week's surprise home loss to the Eels. Penrith had just 40% of possession and completed at 62%. Discipline was also an issue with the penalties 10-2 in favour of Parra.

Head-to-head

Played 47, Newcastle 24, Penrith 20, drawn 3

At McDonald Jones Stadium

Played 23, Penrith 12, Newcastle 11

And another thing ...

If they're not at the game you'd reckon league lovers everywhere will be settling into the armchair for this Saturday evening encounter. Maloney and Pearce were teammates at the Roosters and for the Blues and share a friendly but fiercely competitive rivalry. Then there's Ponga v Cleary - a compelling script we could see played out on various big stages for the next 10 years.