Off the back of a Tyrone Roberts double, the Newcastle Knights snatched a remarkable 16-12 victory over the reigning premiers on Friday night at Hunter Stadium.
It was always going to be a challenge for Newcastle but a gutsy second half performance led to a nail-biting final 10 minutes, with the home team securing their win in the final minutes of the match.
The Knights' had a number of forced changes before kick off with James McManus, Akuila Uate and Darius Boyd ruled out of the Round 20 clash.
It was a night for young talent to shine.
Sione and Chanel Mata’utia were both in the spotlight as the first brothers to debut together in the NRL since 1942 while Under 20s Jake Mamo played tough and with confidence under the high ball.
It was the Roosters who scored first, when Anthony Minichello got a lucky bounce ahead of debutant Sione in defence. The try was converted by James Maloney, handing the Roosters a 6-0 lead after just two minutes.
The Roosters went close again in the 15th minute when a kick from Dane Gagai was charged down by Maloney, who raced towards the tryline. After a horror start, it was a try-saver from Sione that forced Maloney to knock the bal on in goal.
Sione was back in the action in the 29th minute, this time a try-saving tackle on Boyd Cordner, who had broken through the Knights defensive line.
Soon after, Maloney busted over the line in the 33rd minute but was held up by a strong effort by Robbie Rochow.
Completion rates were high for both teams in the first 40 minutes and the Knights kept the Roosters to a single try, going into the break trailing 6-0.
Jarrod Mullen didn’t return after half time due to a abdominal strain, with Gagai shifting into the halves.
The Knights made the most of an early attacking set close to the line when Rochow crashed through the Roosters defence. A swift, over-the-top pass to Mamo saw him dive over the line, but the try was disallowed due to a forward pass.
The Knights hard slog in defence was rewarded when Roberts found space and made a 20 metre break, getting the Knights painstakingly close to the tryline in the 56th minute.
Carrying on the momentum, the Knights were finally on the board after a ball from stand-in captain Beau Scott put Roberts over the line in the 60th minute.
As the try was awarded, Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was sent to the sin bin for dissent.
Gagai successfully converted the try to bring the Knights level with the premiers with 20 minutes to play.
The game took a turn when Willie Mason made a break through the Roosters pack and put the Knights into an attacking position.
Roberts then backed himself with the ball, with three players on the outside, to cross the line in the 64th minute.
The Knights took the lead 10-6 with 15 minutes to go yet, the Roosters stole it back in the 71st minute. Frank-Paul Nuuausala scored next to the uprights with Maloney kicking the conversion, to lead 12-10.
Frustrations boiled over in the final five minutes with a scuffle breaking out. The Knights were awarded the penalty and gained valuable metres.
Leilua sealed the Knights victory with by a try off a perfectly placed kick from Roberts in the 78th minute of the match.
Roberts added the extras to settle the Knights memorable win at 16-12.
Newcastle Knights 16 (T: Roberts 2, Leilua, G: Gagai 1/2, Roberts 1/1)
Sydney Roosters 12 (T: Minichiello, Nuuausala, G: Maloney 2/2)