A committed Newcastle Knights side beat the Wests Tigers 22-12 at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon, showing plenty of starch in defence and just enough nous in attack to secure the Round 10 victory.
Much of the game was a nervy affair, but Knights debutant Chad Redman put the game beyond all doubt in the 77th minute when he burrowed over from dummy-half.
There was only one change for the Knights before the game with Redman coming onto the bench after Adam Clydsdale was forced out with a shoulder injury.
The Knights escaped paying the price for a dropped ball in the first minute when the Tigers knocked it on, and from the set restart they came close to scoring with both Sione Mata'utia and Joey Leilua making line breaks. Leilua was pulled up for a forward pass though, and the Tigers escaped an early scare.
The Knights built their next chance on the back of a Mitchell Moses kick that went out on the full, starting a set 40 metres out that ended just short of the tryline when Tyrone Roberts' pass was intercepted.
The Knights earned a scrum though and they made no mistakes with their next set, Dane Gagai throwing a cut-out ball for James McManus to score his third try of the season. Roberts' curling kick just sneaked between the uprights to give the Knights a 6-0 lead with ten minutes played.
The Tigers almost scored their first points with the help of a penalty 20 metres out in the 14th minute, but the Knights' defence did well to usher the ball wide and force Kevin Naiqama out of play.
The Knights couldn't do anything four minutes later when Luke Brooks broke through the line with a clever feint and passed to Dene Halatau for a simple try. Pat Richards converted from right in front to even the score.
The men in red and blue struck the next blow when James Tedesco dropped a Roberts high ball in the 22nd minute that was collected by a fast thinking Dave Fa'alogo. It was the veteran forward's third try for the Club and it came in his 50th appearance. Roberts added the extras to make the score 12-6.
The Knights looked like scoring their third with seven minutes to play in the first half when they had an entire set on the opposition's line. Tariq Sims lost control of the ball when he went to plant it down over the line though, and the Tigers were let off the hook.
When the players went into the sheds for half time the score remained 12-6.
The Knights looked to have started the second half well until Gagai dropped the ball in a tackle ten metres out from his own line.
The Tigers only managed two plays though before Chris Lawrence emulated Gagai with a dropped ball of his own. It came thanks to a crunching tackle from Kurt Gidley, and Lawrence was forced from the field with concussion.
Mata'utia followed Lawrence off two minutes later after a head clash, triggering a return to the centres for Gagai and a move to fullback for Gidley.
The Tigers looked to exploit the changes in the Knights' spine five minutes later when Moses pried his way through the line and ran forty metres. Uate was on hand to collect his chip, but the Fijian was held up in-goal.
The Tigers scored from the drop-out, Tedesco dribbling the ball through the line with his feet for halfback Brooks to score an unorthodox try. Richards' conversion was accurate, levelling the scores at 12-12 with half an hour to play.
It didn't take the Knights long to bounce back, with Roberts placing another clever kick across the field that McManus palmed back for Leilua to score. Roberts' attempted conversion from out wide was waved away, leaving the score poised at 16-12.
With 23 minutes to play Mata'utia returned to the field, allowing Gagai and Gidley to return to their original positions.
An attempted 40-20 from Tigers captain Robbie Farah almost came off in the 62nd minute, but Uate managed to get a hand to the ball before it went dead and a scrum was packed ten metres out.
The Knights clung on thanks to some desperate defending, and the Tigers were left to rue a missed opportunity.
The away side earned themselves another scrum ten metres out five minutes later when Gagai was forced to palm the ball out of play, but again they were unable to crack open the Knights' defence.
Both sides continued to push and the Knights edged it in possession, but with six minutes to play Gagai dropped a high ball ten metres out from his own line.
The Knights managed to win the ball from the scrum though, and they raced up the other end with the help of two penalties to score via debutant Redman from dummy-half.
Roberts nailed the conversion and the Knights went ten points clear as full time edged closer. The Tigers continued to push in the remaining three minutes but the score remained 22-12.
Newcastle Knights 22 (T: McManus, Fa'alogo, Leilua, Redman, G: Roberts 3/4)
Wests Tigers 12 (T: Halatau, Brooks, G: Richards 2/2)