The Newcastle Knights lost 31-18 to the Brisbane Broncos at Hunter Stadium on Monday night, putting in a disappointing second half performance after leading 18-10 at the 40 minute mark.
After both sides made a number of changes prior to kick off, the Broncos were the first to score when a penalty gave them a set restart with only two minutes played.
With the help of a call of six again on their final tackle, Anthony Milford went on to dart his way through the line to score. Ben Hunt converted to make the score 6-0 with only six minutes played.
The Knights came desperately close four minutes later when they made three offloads within inches of the right touchline to gain 40 metres.
There was no stopping the men in red and blue two plays later though when utility Tyler Randell collected Kade Snowden's offload to drive his way over the line. Tyrone Roberts did well to convert, bringing the scores even with 11 minutes on the clock.
Six minutes later a pin-point Roberts kick earned the Knights a repeat set when Lachlan Maranta was held up over the line, and Korbin Sims seemed to conjure something out of nothing when he steam-rolled four defenders to score next to the uprights.
It was his third try in three appearances against the Broncos, and Roberts made no mistakes with his kick to push the score to 12-6.
The Broncos should have scored in the 23rd minute when danger man Milford made his way through the Knights' defence near the halfway line, but centre Jack Reed failed to see his winger in acres of space and Sione Mata'utia rescued his side with a strong tackle.
Roberts was the next half to pry open the opposition defence, and made 30 metres to lay the platform for a Joey Leilua try. Roberts again converted to make the score 18-6 with half an hour played.
The Broncos was the next side to have a chance in attack after a Knights error, and following a repeat set Reed atoned for his earlier mistake by collecting a Hunt kick to score in acrobatic fashion. Hunt sent the kick wide, making the half-time score 18-10.
The Knights returned for the second half minus Kurt Gidley due to a head knock, and quickly conceded a soft try. From kick-off Jordan Kahu broke through the line and made 50 metres, which served Reed well when he spun through the line two plays later to score his second. Kahu took kicking duties from Hunt and found the target, pushing the score to 18-16.
The Knights found themselves defending multiple repeat sets and six minutes later the Broncos scored again, this time via Andrew McCullough from dummy half. Kahu again converted to extend his side's lead to four points.
The Knights managed to steady the ship with a series of solid sets following the Broncos' third consecutive try, but the away side scored again in the 61st minute when Corey Oates crossed over thanks to a Milford cut-out ball. Kahu returned to the tee and was successful again, pushing the score to 28-18.
The Broncos then benefited when the referee ruled that Tariq Sims infringed in the ruck ten metres out from his line at the end of the set. The away side settled for a kick from the penalty, and Kahu duly sealed the two points to move ahead by two converted tries.
With 11 minutes left to play, the Knights were unable to hit back and after a Milford field goal with three minutes to play, the final score was in Brisbane's favour 31-18.
Newcastle Knights 18 (T: Randell, K Sims, Leilua, G: Roberts 3/3)
Brisbane Broncos 31 (T: Milford, Reed 2, McCullough, Oates, G: Hunt 1/2, Kahu 3/3 P: Kahu 1/1, FG: Milford 1)