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"Photo: Paul Barkley / Melba Studios "

The Newcastle Knights NSW Cup coach Rick Stone and standout players Nathan Ross and Josh Mantellato were buzzing after the team’s comprehensive 56-12 victory over the Cronulla Sharks at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon hailing it one of the best wins of the season. 

Stone was elated with his team’s dominating effort, which moved the team into fifth three weeks before the finals. 

“It was a really impressive start, we started really fast and scored a lot of points early,” Stone told Knights TV in the sheds after the game.

“Not only did we score some points, but we defended pretty well which makes everyone happier.

“We’ve got three games to go and they’re all at home still so that gives us a chance to keep climbing up the ladder.

“We went through a patch mid season were we lost six or seven in a row, but I think we’ve won seven of our last eight so we’re heading in the right direction and the team has some confidence and energy and are playing good footy and enjoying each other’s company as well."

Stone believes the team will be boosted by the return of Pat Mata'utia, who missed the game being first grade's 18th man, however he thought James Elias played well and scoring a double. 

Fullback Nathan Ross, who displayed an impressive performance in his first game at Hunter Stadium, said the game was a defining win. 

“My first game at Hunter Stadium was actually unbelievable,” he said. 

"The crowd started to roar at the end and I could only imagine what it would be like playing in front of a packed house."

Ross believes the fact the team has reached good form at the back of the season is promising. 

“We bagged a pretty big win…it puts us in the right direction and sets us up for hopefully a top four finish,” he said.

"If we keep working like that and believing in our structure, hopefully we’ll go far.

"There’s been a few games that have defined our season and this game is certainly one of them. 

“We believe in the structures that Stoney’s put in place and you can see when we play to our capability, we can disturb any team.

“We were missing a few with a few promotions like Chanel and Pat as 18th man today, so it just shows we are knocking on the door of first grade and we’ll stick together and will give this comp a good rattle."

Josh Mantellato, who has recently signed a three year deal with Hull KR, was a stand out bagging an incredible four tries which the winger pointed out was a personal best.

“Today was probably the best performance we’ve put on the paddock this year,” he said.

“We’re starting to build momentum, which is important heading into the semis. 

"We’re doing the right things at training and all the boys are healthy which is the main thing."

The Knights NSW Cup side is now set to play the Warriors on Sunday at 3pm at Newcastle Number 2 Sportsground.