The Newcastle Knights' NYC side has moved back to the top of the Holden Cup ladder following a dominant 64-16 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys at Hunter Stadium on Monday night.
Inspired by their best first-half performance of the year, the Knights put on an attacking show to lead the Cowboys 34-0 at the halftime break.
It's a dominance the men in red and blue continued in the second half with a further five tries to confirm their tenth win for the 2014 season.
Halfback Jaelen Feeney was superb with a hat-trick, while halves partner in crime Sam Keenan was equally damaging with a try and number of impressive passes.
Back-rower Harry Pondekas also stood out with two tries and a number of strong charges and fullback Bryce Donovan excelled kicking 11 goals in the win.
The Knights will look to maintain their form when they take on fellow top four team, the Parramatta Eels at Pirtek Stadium next Sunday.
Newcastle made a number of positional changes prior to kick-off.
Bradie Smith replaced Josh Birch on the wing, while Sam Keenan was named at five-eighth for Jacob Gagai.
The Knights had the ideal start to the match when a Jaelen Feeney grubber kick forced a North Queensland mistake.
This allowed centre Chance Peni to score following an impressive backline movement.
Fullback Bryce Donovan added the extras to give the Knights an early 6-0 lead.
Newcastle was full of running in the opening exchanges and extended their lead after 11 minutes via a strong run from back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
Donovan missed the conversion from the sideline, but the home side were in control leading 10-0.
The Knights were looking dangerous every time they touched the footy and added to their advantage after 17 minutes following a try to winger Braden Robson.
Donovan nailed the conversion from the sideline to give the home side a commanding 16-0 lead.
North Queensland couldn’t take a trick in the opening quarter of the match with repeated mistakes on their own line.
This allowed the Knights to cross again after 20 minutes through consistent back-rower Harry Pondekas.
Donovan added the extras to give the men in red and blue a big 22-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Knights were putting on a show and scored again just minutes later following a great piece of individual brilliance from halfback Jaelen Feeney.
Donovan was again faultless with the boot to push the home side out to a comfortable 28-0 lead.
North Queensland received their first real attacking opportunity after 32 minutes, but the Knights’ defence held on.
The home side was then rewarded for their defence when interchange forward Pride Petterson-Robati barged over following a perfect face ball from half Feeney.
Donovan converted from adjacent to the uprights to give the Knights a highly impressive 34-0 lead at the break.
North Queensland opened the scoring in the second half via interchange forward Michael Barclay. Back-rower and skipper Corey Jensen converted to bridge the Knights' lead down to 28 points.
This good fortune for the Cowboys was only short lived though, as the Knights flexed their muscles to cross via back-rower Pondekas.
The former Bronco followed up a great run from five-eighth Sam Keenan to race away and score. Donovan converted from in front to give the home side a 40-6 lead with 31 minutes left on the clock.
As dominant as the Knights were though, it was clear that the Cowboys had come out for the second half with renewed determination.
This feeling was confirmed after 51 minutes when centre Conor Carey crashed over. Jensen added the extras to make the score 40-12 in the Knights' favour with plenty of time remaining.
Newcastle centre Peni looked certain to score just minutes later, but he was run down by some desperate last-ditch Cowboys' defence.
North Queensland crossed again minutes later via prop Viliame Kikau to chip away at the Knights' advantage, but the home side were still in control leading 40-16 with 18 minutes left.
Newcastle remained calm though and crossed again after 65 minutes through barnstorming bookend Luke Yates. Donovan converted to give the men in red and blue a 46-16 lead.
Keenan capped off a brilliant match when he scored with eight minutes remaining, before Feeney bagged his second four-pointer minutes later to give the Knights a commanding 58-16 lead.
Feeney ensured the Knights would finish with a flurry of points when he snared his hat-trick minutes later. Donovan converted to make the score 64-16, a lead they would take to the final siren.
Newcastle Knights: 64 (T: Pene, Fitzgibbon, Robson, Pondekas 2, Feeney 3, Petterson-Robati, Yates, Keenan; G: Donovan 10/11 )
Donovan, Robson Mata’utia, Peni, Smith, Keenan, Feeney, Togiatasi, Levi, Yates, Fitzgibbon, Pondekas, Boyce. Interchange: De Saxe, Petterson-Robati, Taylor, Pakau.
Bowie, O’Neill, Magey, Garey, Schulte, Ashby, Carucci, Kikau, Chudleigh, Kelleher, Hess, Jensen, Munro. Interchange: Clarke, Niemoeller, Grieve, Barclay.