THE Newcastle Knights were again hindered by head knocks as they crashed to a 40-0 hammering from Penrith at Pepper Stadium on Friday night.
The seven-tries-to-none victory was partially overshadowed by a 29th-minute incident, when Knights bench forward Jacob Saifiti crashed to the ground after trying to tackle Penrith’s hard-running Sitaleki Akauola.
Saifiti sat dazed on the turf as he was treated by Knights trainer Tony Ayoub.
He was then taken to the dressing room for a head-injury assessment, unlike last week, when Knights fullback Brendan Elliot was allowed to stay on the field after a high shot from South Sydney centre Hymel Hunt.
The Elliot situation and ensuing controversy prompted the NRL to hit the Knights with a $100,000 breach notice, which the club intends to contest.
Saifiti returned to the game for the start of the second half, but soon after Knights hooker Danny Levi also suffered a heavy knock and went off for an assessment.
He, too, returned to the game.
Despite winning only one of their first three games, the Knights were in each of those contests until the 80th minute.
Against Penrith they were simply outclassed and the result was virtually sealed by half-time, with Penrith leading 22-0.
Penrith opened the scoring in the fourth minute when skipper Matt Moylan worked a backline move and winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dived over in the corner.
Five minutes later, Watene-Zeleniak went within inches of scoring after Penrith created another right-edge overlap.
The home side made it 10-0 in the 21st minute when debutant Corey Harawira-Neara crashed through some flimsy defence, and halfback Nathan Cleary converted.
The scoreline quickly mounted as five-eighth Te Maire Martin and centre Tyrone Peachey scored before half-time.
The Panthers added further tries to Peter Wallace, Dean Whare and Cleary, who also kicked six goals from seven attempts.