NEWCASTLE’S last remaining hope of a premiership in 2018 is no more after their Jersey Flegg (under-20) side suffered a heart-breaking loss to Penrith in Saturday’s grand final qualifier at Leichhardt Oval.
Newcastle were leading 26-24 with less than a minute to play, when Panthers fullback Daine Laurie produced a miracle try, his second of the game.
Brendan Hands converted to seal a 30-26 win for Penrith, who will now meet Cronulla in the decider.
It was a disappointing exit for the Todd Lowrie-coached Knights, who finished the regular season as minor premiers after winning 17 of their 20 games, then beating Mounties and the Roosters in the play-offs.
Newcastle fought back from an early 12-0 deficit against the Panthers.
Centre Starford T’oa scored two tries for the Knights, while Justin Worley, Matthew Cooper and Tex Hoy also crossed.
Kurtis Dark kicked three conversions.
Newcastle’s line-up included tough hooker Tom Starling, who made his top-grade debut against St George Illawarra in the last round of the NRL season.