They were tough, resilient and determined but in the end it wasn't enough for the Newcastle Knights in a thrilling 23-20 loss to the Wests Tigers at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
In a hard fought match, the Knights put in a performance that fittingly replicated the Hunter miners well-known toughness on 'Voice for Mining Family Day'.
While Newcastle's effort certainly couldn't be faulted, it was the Tigers who came up with the big plays when it mattered to seal the two competition points.
The Knights led 16-14 with 25 minutes remaining, but the away side proved too strong on the back of a field goal to Pat Richards and a late try to Chris Lawrence.
Aku Uate was a standout for the Knights with three tries to become the all-time leading try scorer in Club history with 92 tries. Uate's surpasses Club legend Timana Tahu (91) on the list with his hat-trick.
Darius Boyd was also strong in his 200th NRL game, while Tyrone Roberts and Jarrod Mullen also played well.
The Knights will look to salvage some pride when they take on the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium next Saturday night.
Newcastle made one positional change prior to the match.
David Fa’ologo started in the front-row, moving Willie Mason to the interchange bench.
The Tigers had the dream start to the match when fullback James Tedesco freakishly collected a high kick-off.
This gave the away side invaluable field position, but they were unable to convert.
The Tigers controlled possession though and were rewarded after six minutes following a try to Tedesco.
Winger Pat Richards converted to give the away side an early 6-0 lead.
Wests were entertaining the crowd with plenty silky skills and fast-paced footy, while the Knights were struggling to contain them.
Richards extended the Tigers lead to 8-0 after 13 minutes with a penalty goal.
Newcastle remained calm though and crossed three minutes later via flying winger Aku Uate.
Uate received a great ball from Boyd to score in the corner and equal Timana Tahu’s as the equal leading try scorer in the Club’s history with 91 tries.
Roberts missed the conversion, but the Knights were back in the game trailing 8-4 after 20 minutes.
Newcastle extended their lead after 26 minutes following a freakish try to Roberts.
The halfback dived on a mistake from Tigers five-eighth Braith Anasta, who couldn’t hold the ball after colliding awkwardly in mid-air with teammate Tedesco.
Roberts added the extras from in front to give the Knights a 10-8 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half.
Tigers interchange prop Martin Taupau was placed on report for a swinging arm after 31 minutes.
Newcastle’s Kade Snowden was then placed on report just minutes later for a high tackle on Curtis Sironen.
The Knights were playing with plenty of enthusiasm and it showed through in their attack and defence.
While the men in red and blue looked more likely to score, the Tigers kept themselves in the game via their defence.
But it was Newcastle who went to the halftime break with a close 10-8 advantage.
The Tigers started the second-half full of running and scored after just four minutes via winger Richards. The veteran flyer finished off a great run from halfback Luke Brooks to score.
Richards added the extras to put the Tigers back in the lead 14-10 with 34 minutes remaining.
Newcastle remained calm though and took levelled the scores after 57 minutes following an entertaining team try finished off by Uate.
The four-pointer means Uate is the now the leading try scorer in Club history with 92 tries.
Roberts added the extras to give the Knights a slender 16-14 lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Knights skipper Kurt Gidley was sent to the sin-bin after 65 minutes for a professional foul on Tigers' skipper Robbie Farah.
Richards kicked the goal from in front to lock the scores at 16-all with 15 minutes remaining.
The Tigers took the lead minutes later following a crazy sequence of play that involved countless passes, before Richards landed a field goal from 35 metres out.
This freakish play lifted the away side, who extended their lead minutes later via centre Chris Lawrence. Richards converted to give the Tigers a handy 23-16 lead with nine minutes remaining.
The Knights crossed with three minutes left through Uate, who showed enormous speed to score his third try down the left-hand edge.
Newcastle were coming home strongly, but it was the Tigers who held on for a hard fought win.