Inspired by yet another strong first half display, the Newcastle Knights NYC team recorded a dominant 30-18 victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
The Knights have been brilliant in the opening 40 minutes this season and it continued against the Bulldogs with 26 points in the first stanza.
This dominance allowed the men in red and blue to set up a comfortable win and remain unbeaten on the top of the Holden Cup ladder after eight rounds.
Second-rower Joe Tapine was again a standout with two tries, while centre Sione Mata'utia and skipper Danny Levi also impressed.
The Knights have a well earned bye next week to rest up and prepare for the rest of the season.
Newcastle made a number of changes prior to kick-off.
Pride Petterson-Robati was elevated from the bench to start at lock, replacing Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
Bradie Smith dropped off the bench, with Josh King and Joe Boyce coming in.
The Knights looked strong in the opening exchanges led by forwards Tuiala Togiatasi and Luke Yates.
This enabled the men in red and blue to open the scoring after just five minutes via second-rower Joe Tapine.
The New Zealand-born forward finished off a classy try with a determined run to the line.
Winger Bryce Donovan added the extras to give the Knights an early 6-0 lead.
Newcastle extended their lead just five minutes later when centre Sione Mata’utia crashed over following a nice face ball from halfback Jaelen Feeney.
Donovan was again faultless with the kick as the Knights skipped away to a 12-0 advantage after just 14 minutes.
The men in red and blue were taking control of the match and Tapine ensured it stayed that way when he barged for his second try after 20 minutes.
Donovan missed the conversion, but it was the Knights dominating with a 16-0 lead with 18 minutes left in the first half.
Canterbury couldn’t hold the football and Newcastle made them pay in the 29th minute when skipper Danny Levi scored.
He dived over from dummy half and while Donovan missed the kick, it was the Knights out in front 20-0.
The Bulldogs hit back five minutes before halftime via hooker Robbie Kamoto, but Newcastle still had a commanding 20-6 advantage.
While Canterbury got a sniff, it was the Knights who finished the half in fine style thanks to a strong try from second-rower Harry Pondekas.
Donovan converted from the sideline to make sure Newcastle went into the sheds leading 26-6.
The Knights extended their lead just nine minutes into the second half when replacement James De Saxe crossed out wide.
Donovan missed the conversion from the sideline, but Newcastle had a comfortable 30-6 lead.
Canterbury were being soundly beaten on the scoreboard, but they refused to give in and crossed with 20 minutes remaining via second-rower Adam Elliott.
The Bulldogs scored again in the dying stages via forward Jake Kamire to reduce deficit to 30-18, but it wasn't enough as the Knights held on for the win.
Newcastle Knights 30 (T: Tapine 2, Mata’utia, Levi, Pondekas, G: Donovan 3/5)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 (T: Kamoto, Elliott, Kamire, G: Keighran 3/3)
Knights: Gagai, Donovan, Mata’utia, Peni, Birch, Keenan, Feeney, Togiatasi, Levi, Yates, Tapine, Pondekas, Petterson-Robati. Bench: De Saxe, Koopu, King, Boyce.
Bulldogs: Krisanski-Kennedy, Liolevave, Gerry-Burgess, Seau, Langi, Keighran, Cox, Fualalo, King, Cope, Kamire, Elliott, Creighton. Bench: Kamoto, Tsikrikas, Hunt, Tupuolo.