Maloney key as Penrith beat Knights in NRL

It's not often James Maloney pulls off a bellringer.

But the NRL veteran did that and more in an inspiring display that helped Penrith record an impressive 16-14 win over Newcastle.

Maloney has been chastised for most of his career over his defensive frailties but the 32-year-old came up with the goods when the Panthers needed it most.

His second-half hit on Connor Watson forced a turnover and minutes later, with Penrith holding a delicate eight-point lead, he stripped Edrick Lee over the line.

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

The McDonald Jones Stadium crowd of 19,451 still got their grandstand finish when Mitch Barnett willed his way over with seven minutes to play.

But the Panthers held on to secure their first victory of the season.

"That was a huge play, that one on Edrick," Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said.

"Jimmy's capable. He probably missed his first few (tackles) tonight, so he didn't start off in a great spot... but he definitely didn't shirk his task.

"He's a competitor."

A week after ill-discipline cost them in their season-opening loss to Parramatta, it appeared Penrith were on the same track early before they slowly regained their footing.

They claimed the lead on a well-executed set play for James Fisher-Harris and, after Kalyn Ponga created a try with his cut-out pass for Lee, the visitors entered the break in front after Malakai Watene-Zelezniak's miracle effort.

The Panthers winger sensationally tapped back a Nathan Cleary grubber that was well over the deadball line for club debutant Frank Winterstein to ground.

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

It was reported Yeo had failed his head injury assessment, however, club doctors cleared him to return.

The Panthers co-captain scored a crucial second-half try when he dragged five defenders over the line on 44 minutes.

Knights coach Nathan Brown said they simply couldn't match Penrith's energy and were outdone in crucial moments.

"We weren't quite there. The best way to sum the game up was their try just before halftime," he said.

"The effort from their winger to get the ball back in, then when you got Eddie at 104 kilo and Jimmy Maloney coming up with a one-on-one strip... That was us as a team."