The NSW Cup Knights beat the Illawarra Cutters 32-16 on Sunday afternoon to tighten their stranglehold on a finals position.
While Jake Mamo returned, the Cup side were still without the likes of Joseph Tapine, Carlos Tuimavave and Sam Mataora.
Despite this the red and blues were dominant throughout the 80 minutes, Damian Sironen in particular shining in the middle with plenty of offloads and strong runs.
Cutters winger Sucie Mociedreke came close five minutes in when his side earned back-to- back penalties, but two minutes later the in-form Honeti Tuha collected an intercept to sprint 40 metres and score.
Kerrod Holland was unable to add the extras though, and from the Cutters' kick-off halfback Jaelen Feeney dropped the ball metres from his own line.
The Knights held strong in the following defensive set, but five minutes later forward Peni Bottiki crashed over following a scrum. Fullback Blake Wallace converted to push the Cutters into the lead.
It didn't take the Knights long to strike back though, Holland finding space down the right line to race 50 meters and score in the 19th minute. Holland was unable to add the extras from the sideline, leaving the score at 8-6.
Six minutes later the Knights were over again when Chanel Mata'utia finished off a move orchestrated by Feeney. Holland converted this time to push the score to 14-6, and three minutes later Feeney did it all himself when he dummied his way over the line to score.
Four minutes before half-time the Knights made it four unanswered tries when Ben Tupou shrugged off some attention to dive over beneath the uprights, pushing the score to 26-6.
The scoring continued early in the second half when five-eighth George Ndaira sliced his way through several defenders to score.
It wasn't until the 60th minute that the next points were scored, Cutters half Adam Clune burrowing his way over beneath the uprights.
Soon after the away side were over again, Mociedreke collecting a chipped ball to spin around his marker and score. Wallace was unable to convert, the full time score remaining at 32-16.
The win has the side only four points off the top of the ladder with four rounds remaining.
Newcastle Knights 32 (G: Tuha, Mata’utia, Holland, Feeney, Tupou, Ndaira; G: Holland 4/6)
Illawarra Cutters 16 (T: Botiki, Clune, Mociedreke; G: Wallace 2/3)
Holland, Tuha, P Mata'utia, C Mata'utia, Mamo, Ndaira, Feeney, Sironen, Kelly, Vaivai, Fitzgibbon, Jarrett, Filipo. Bench: Taylor, Tupou, B Stone, Koopu.