The Knights met the Panthers in unfamiliar territory as Campbelltown Stadium started its run as an NRL biosecurity venue.
With both teams unbeaten and depleted by injury and suspension, the Knights weren't helped by the early concussion of halfback and leader Mitchell Pearce.
With Kalyn Ponga and hooker Jayden Brailey out injured, the Knights' spine already had a spare-parts look about it. Tex Hoy was making his debut at fullback and the more experienced Connor Watson was in the Knights No.9 jersey. Pearce put his head into the wrong position when tackling rampaging Panthers replacement Stephen Crichton, and the halfback was replaced by debutant Chris Randall after only four minutes. Six minutes later Watson hobbled off with an ankle injury, Brodie Jones coming on to replace him on debut.
With the Knights in disarray, the Panthers were the first over the line after Dean Whare gathered a kick from five-eighth Burton, but Hoy wasn't about to let him ground the ball. He somehow managed to roll Whare on his side and wrap his arm around the Steeden. The Panthers threw more attack at the Knights, but the Novocastrians rallied in defence and held firm, bundling Josh Mansour into touch to end one raid.
The Knights, by necessity, were focusing on winning the battle up front, with Dave Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti charging up the middle. But they had no answer for a barnstorming Viliame Kikau on the edge of the ruck as he crossed for the first try of the game approaching the 20-minute mark.
From the restart, Knights forward Tim Glasby put his head in the wrong position when making a tackle and he too walked gingerly from the field to join the his two injured teammates.
The Panthers went to the other side of the field with the same tactic, running Kurt Capewell at the gap between half and centre. He proved just as unstoppable and the Knights were starting to look like they were in big trouble. It didn't help that Edrick Lee lashed out with his boot as Capewell scored, his shin striking the Panthers forward in the head and resulting in an eight-point try.
Tim Glasby managed to shake his knock off and return to the field, but Watson and Pearce were both gone for the match. Key players, especially in attack, the Knights looked lost with the ball. The Panthers continued to work the edges of the ruck and very nearly scored again through Moses Leota.
With seconds remaining in the first half the Knights worked their way downfield and a weary looking Panthers defence opened up, with Knights replacement forward Jacob Saifiti stepping before crashing over under the posts. The try converted by Hoy saw the score 14-6 at halftime, the Knights somehow hanging in there despite the odds.
The early exchanges in the second half involved plenty of feeling in the middle of the park as both sets of forwards looked for an edge. The Panthers were continuing to have the better of the territory battle, with play cemented in the Knights' half of the field.
Edrick Lee made a couple of errors which kept the Panthers on the attack. But the Knights defence somehow held the Panthers out. Finally a kick over the dead-ball line saw the Knights gain possession with a set of seven tackles. A tackle count reset and they were well on the attack before youngster Bradman Best crashed over out wide. The missed conversion left the Knights within four points with the score 14-10 in the Panthers' favour. It was the lift the Knights needed and from the restart they were on the move again, receiving a tackle reset, followed by a penalty.
With eleven minutes remaining, it was Bradman Best again, running off an Lee pass after the lanky wingers fielded a Knights bomb 10 out from the Panthers' try-line. Hoy lined up the conversion from near the sideline and hooked it to the left. The scores locked at 14-14 as the last 10 minutes promised to be a shoot-out.
Panthers five-eighth Matt Burton had the first crack at a field gold with just under five minutes remaining. It was well struck, but skewed away from the posts. The Knights worked their way downfield from the restart and Kurt Mann had a shot. His wobbler faded well wide. It was the Panthers' turn to work their way towards the one-pointer, but Moses Leota lost the ball when playing it on the last tackle.
A Brian To'o break had the Panthers back on the attack and Burton lined up another shot, but missed to the other side of the posts this time. With the fulltime siren sounding Lee made a break down the left hand touchline, but was bundled over the line by Billy Burns. The thriller at Campbelltown was heading into golden point extra time.
Penrith received the ball from the golden point restart and Mansour made a big break down the left. He couldn't get the ball to a rampaging Kikau. But on the next tackle Burton lined up for another shot at field goal, this time he hit the posts and the ball rebounded into the arms of an offside teammate. the Knights received the penalty and headed down field. It was Hoy's turn for a shot at glory, but his attempt was deflected by the Panthers and went dead. The Knights would receive the ball from the drop-out.
On the last tackle, Hoy ran the ball under pressure, he found Best in the open, Best drew the defence and passed the ball behind Lee, who couldn't gather the ball in. The Panthers received the ball with the clock ticking down on the first half of golden point extra time. This time Burton's shot was short, passing under the cross bar.
After the break both teams exchanged two sets of six without ever getting close enough to take a shot at the deciding field goal. With their third possession, the Panthers made it to the Knights' 40-metre mark and Burton lined up yet again and he missed to the right, yet again. The Knights worked downfield as the clocked ticked away, they ran on the last and the Panthers received the ball. They lost it trying to advance and the Knights finished the game in possession.
The game was drawn and the two points were split. Given what had transpired across the 90 minutes of NRL action, it was probably the right result. Though the Panthers will likely see this as a missed opportunity.