Rugby League | Knights lose 30-26 to Penrith in under-20 grand final qualifier.

LOSS: Tom Starling
LOSS: Tom Starling

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.