NRL 2019: James Maloney inspires Panthers past Knights

James Maloney has produced two inspiring defensive plays to inspire Penrith to an impressive 16-14 thriller over Newcastle.   

Maloney has been chastised for most of his career over his defensive blues.   

But the 32-year-old came up with the goods when his team needed it most, beginning with a second-half bellringer on Connor Watson to force a turnover.   

And while it may not have resulted in points, moments later the veteran prevented Edrick Lee from a near-certain try when he stripped the winger over the line.   

A Mitch Barnett rampage with seven minutes to play set up a grandstand finish, but the Panthers held on to secure their first win of the season.   

Maloney was also involved in two of Penrith's three tries in an all-round display.   

One week after getting crushed in the penalty count in their season-opening loss to Parramatta, it appeared Penrith's ill-discipline would cost them again.   

They were pinged 5-1 in the opening 13 minutes and were down 2-0.   

But Ivan Cleary's side slowly regained their footing to claim the lead on a well-executed set play for James Fisher-Harris.   

And while Kalyn Ponga got one back on his cutout pass for Lee, the Panthers entered the break in front on Malakai Watene-Zelezniak's miracle effort.   

The Panthers winger tapped back a Nathan Cleary grubber well over the dead-ball line for club debutant Frank Winterstein to ground.   

The visitors extended the lead courtesy of Isaah Yeo, who suffered his second concussion in as many weeks after copping a stray elbow from a teammate.   

It was reported Yeo had failed his head injury assessment after failing to get back after 15 minutes, however, club doctors cleared him to return.   

And the Panthers co-captain scored a crucial second-half try when he dragged five defenders over the line to give his team an eight-point lead.   

Both sides had opportunities to seize the initiative, including chances for Ponga and Waqa Blake, in an enthralling second half contest.