Unbeaten Panthers keep the winning bug over Knights to stay top of NRL

Penrith lost Apisai Koroisau to a virus but proved winning is more contagious as they beat Newcastle 24-6.

In a high-quality game on Thursday night where Kalyn Ponga was dangerous as ever for Newcastle, Penrith's young guns Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary still had the last laugh.

James Fisher-Harris was also immense in the middle for the Panthers, who have still only conceded two tries in the second half of games this year.

With the score stuck at 10-6 for what felt like an age after the break, Penrith looked in danger of dropping their first game of the year in round seven.

But in the big moments, Penrith just keep stepping up and winning.

They've now won 22 straight regular-season matches and haven't been beaten at home since way back in July 2019.

Never was their winning habit more evident than in a crucial five-minute period in the second half.

Looking on the ropes after a Brian To'o error on first tackle, Newcastle had every chance to go 12-10 up and put the pressure on the Panthers with 20 minutes to play.

But Penrith's defence stood firm as Ponga put on a poor ball that was dropped by Brodie Jones, letting the Panthers off the hook.

A penalty moments later let Cleary kick them six points clear, and with the game as good as good as gone To'o and Dylan Edwards ran in late tries to seal it.

"I thought we were on top for most the game," Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said.

"I thought the Knights did a really good job of hanging in there and disrupting us. There were five six-again tackle-ones in the first half.

"The last couple of weeks have shown every team brings their best or close to it when they prepare for us, so it's a challenge we have to keep facing."

Edwards' try came on his return from a broken hand while Koroisau is also due to join him soon after being struck down by a virus.

Newcastle were gutsy as ever and clung on after going down 10-0 early before a Starford To'a 60-metre effort and fend on Dylan Edwards put them back in it.

But Penrith's attack was sublime.

Their first came when Nathan Cleary grubbered for a hard-chasing Stephen Crichton to score, with the centre moving to the right with Edwards' back.

Their next was a thing of beauty through Luai.

After the five-eighth jinked in front of the defence with the ball out in his hands, he went short for Matt Burton to run through a gaping hole.

Edwards' try was also impressive off a scrum play that saw Isaah Yeo break free from lock and find his fullback inside him.

Meanwhile To'o's last capped off a powerful night for the winger, who topped 200 metres for the fifth time this season with a career-best 290.

"We got done on a couple of plays we defended all week ... the scrum play," Knights coach Adam O'Brien said.

"That's a sign we're scratching and fighting, but not fighting smart. We weren't as polished as the opposition are.

"That's a team full of confidence with minimal changes.

"They nail, they ice their plays."