A strong second-half performance has laid the platform for the Newcastle Knights' NYC team to snap a three-game losing streak with a hard fought 28-24 victory over the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
In a match played with plenty of intensity, the Knights showcased plenty of spirit to fight back from a 14-6 deficit at the half-time break to record a much needed win.
The men in red and blue scored two second half tries through five-eighth Jacob Gagai and back-rower Harry Pondekas, while fullback Bryce Donovan kicked two vital penalty goals to ensure the Knights got home in a tight one.
Skipper Danny Levi was a standout, while halfback Jaelen Feeney and back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon also stood out.
The four-point triumph takes the Knights back to the top of the Holden Cup ladder, although that could change with Parramatta playing the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Newcastle will look to maintain their winning ways when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys at Hunter Stadium next Monday night.
The Knights made one change prior to kick-off.
Emerging SG Ball outside back Braden Robson came onto the wing to replace Brodie Lam.
It was an evenly matched start to the match, with both teams trading blows in a fast-paced opening.
The Roosters received the first attacking opportunity after eight minutes, but they couldn’t convert thanks to some strong Knights’ defence.
This changed after 13 minutes when Tri-colours prop Braden Uele barged over from close range.
Five-eighth Travis Edwards converted from in front to give the home side an early 6-0 lead.
Newcastle had a number of chances to score, but poor ball handling cost them dearly.
The Roosters then made them pay after 19 minutes when winger Jack Goodsell finished off an impressive back-line movement to score.
Edwards missed the sideline conversion, but his side still had a comfortable 10-0 advantage.
The men from Bondi extended their lead four minutes later when centre Taane Milne proved too strong to score an impressive try in the eastern corner.
Edwards couldn’t convert, but his team were in control leading 14-0.
Newcastle hit back through skipper Danny Levi, who barrowed over after 28 minutes.
Fullback Bryce Donovan added the extras to reduce the Roosters’ lead to 14-6 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
Newcastle peppered the Chooks’ line for three consecutive sets before the break, but the home side held on the back of some quality defence.
It was a spirited defensive effort that ensured the Roosters would go to the break leading 14-6.
The Knights had the ideal start to the second half when five-eighth Jacob Gagai put in a perfect chip kick for himself to score an impressive solo try.
Donovan converted from adjacent to the uprights to bring the men in red and blue within just two points with 35 minutes remaining.
While the Knights were starting to look strong, it was the Roosters who extended their lead four minutes later via fullback Arthur Currie.
Edwards nailed the conversion from the sideline to give the home side a handy 20-12 advantrage with 30 minutes left on the clock.
Newcastle refused to give in though and scored after 52 minutes following a try to back-rower Harry Pondekas, who swooped on a Roosters' drop ball to score.
Donovan added the extras and the Knights were once again trialling by just two points with a plenty of time left in the match.
The Roosters had an invaluable chance to cross just five minutes later, but the Knights' defence strong.
Newcastle were rewarded for this effort when powerful interchange prop Pride Petterson-Robati scored after 60 minutes.
The former Storm forward did it all himself to put the Knights in the lead for the first time. Donovan converted from the sideline to give the men in red and blue a slender 24-20 lead with 17 minutes remaining.
Newcastle extended their lead to six points after 70 minutes following a Donovan penalty goal.
The Roosters wouldn't go away though and reduced the Knights' lead to just two points minutes later following a try to back-rower Jakiel Mariner.
Edwards missed the conversion though to ensure Newcastle retained a slender 26-24 lead with four minutes left.
Newcastle took their lead to four points in the dying stages after another penalty goal to Donovan and it would be a lead they retain to the full-time siren.
Newcastle Knights 28 (T: Levi, Gagai, Pondekas, Petterson-Robati, G: Donovan 4/4, P: Donovan 2/2)
Sydney Roosters 24 (T: Uele, Goodsell, Milne, Currie, Mariner, G: Edwards 2/5)
Donovan, Robson, Smith, Peni, Birch, Gagai, Feeney, Togiatasi, Levi (c), Yates, Fitzgibbon, Pondekas, Boyce. Interchange: De Saxe, Petterson-Robati, Taylor, Pakau.
Currie, Ellis, Elliott, Milne, Goodsell, Edwards, Cornish, Uele, Vanderhardt, Dokonivalu, Lyons, Mariner, Lewis. Interchange: Mamary, Leuiai, Demetriou, Rogers.