The NYC Knights emphatically beat the New Zealand Warriors 36-16 at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday afternoon, showing plenty of resilience and heart against the reigning premiers after losing their last two games by big margins.
With Dylan Phythian playing in NSW Cup Jake McNamara playd in the halves and Brock Lamb at fullback where he had a brilliantly effective game with two tries and six from six conversions.
The young Knights started strongly, earning a repeat set in the first minute when they tackled Warriors fullback Brad Abbey in goal.
Hooker Danny Levi came close to scoring in the next set when he dived over from dummy-half, but the referee ruled that he had knocked the ball on.
The Knights earned another repeat set in the ninth minute when Abbey was tackled in goal, and this time prop Daniel Saifiti was held up over the line as the away side continued to probe for their first try.
The hungry Knights finally got what they were looking for on the back of a Warriors dropped ball five minutes later when Josh Birch finished off a nice play on the left edge. Brock Lamb did well to convert from the sideline, making the score 6-0 with 14 minutes played.
The Warriors were close to scoring against the run of attacking play four minutes later when forward Marata Niukore was brought up centimetres short of the tryline with three defenders clinging on.
The Knights counter-attacked quickly thanks to a clever Jack Cogger 40-20, and from the set restart centre Braden Robson broke through the Warriors' defence to score. Lamb again did well to convert from out wide, doubling his side's lead with 21 minutes played.
With an absolute deluge of rain starting at Mt Smart the ball security of both teams began to suffer. Following some sloppy passes from the Knights the Warriors made 80 easy metres down the middle of the field and would have scored if not for the resolute defence of the away side's big forwards.
With eight minutes left to play in the first half the Knights conceded a penalty ten metres out from their own line and the Warriors made no mistakes, second rower Ofahiki Ogden finding space to dive over. Ata Hingano added the extras to halve the Knights' lead.
The Knights started the second half with renewed energy, Lamb placing an inch-perfect grubber to secure his side a repeat set through a line drop-out.
Two minutes later Levi poked the ball through the Warriors' line with his end of set kick, Lamb grounding it scant centimetres before it went dead. Lamb converted his own try to push the score to 18-6.
Levi and Lamb combined again in the 55th minute to produce a carbon copy of their last try, albeit on the other side of the field.
Lamb converted, and was at it again after the restart when he collected a Bradie Smith offload to run twenty metres and then pass to Jake McNamara for his first NYC try. Lamb capped off the fine attacking play with another conversion, pushing the score to 30-6.
The Warriors hadn't given up though, and in the 64th minute Koli Oneone leapt high to collect a Hingano bomb and score. Hingano kicked well to add the extras but his side weren't done yet, with left winger Tomas Aoake collecting the scraps from a kick two minutes later to dive over. Hingano again converted to push the score to 30-16.
With five minutes to play the Warriors' desperation showed when fullback Abbey threw a pass that was never going to work. Left winger Jack Mackin intercepted the ball and raced 40 metres to score. Lamb sealed the win with his kick, the final score an impressive 36-16.
Newcastle Knights 36 (T: Birch, Robson, Lamb 2, McNamara, Mackin, G: Lamb 6/6)
New Zealand Warriors 16 (T: Ogden, Oneone, Aoake, G: Hingano 2/3)
Lamb, Uta, Birch, Robson, Tofilau, McNamara, Cogger, King, Levi, D Saifiti, Smith, Stone, Yates. Bench: Amey, Fepuleai, Apthorpe, Mackin.