The nib Newcastle Knights ran out 38-22 victors over the Tweed Heads Seagulls in a trial match at Sercombe Oval on Saturday evening.
First grade regulars Trent Hodkinson, Sam Mataora and Mickey Paea all had strong 40-minute performances, while 2017 hopefuls Dylan Phythian and Jack Cogger played the majority of the match and impressed.
The red and blues thoroughly dominated in the first half, racking up a 28-6 lead.
It started barely two minutes in as skipper Hodkinson found a hole and glided through, passing to fellow half Cogger for an easy four-pointer.
The Knights would have been disappointed five minutes later though, as the Seagulls struck back courtesy of some lax defence in the middle. It was prop Lamar Liolevave that scored the try beneath the posts, and halfback Sam Meskell converted to bring the scores even.
For the next 20 minutes it was all the Knights though, as Dylan Phtyhian and then Kainoa Gudgeon scored on opposite flanks.
Soon after centre Tom Hughes scored a try as well, and what followed was undoubtedly the best passage of play in the match.
From the kick restart Paea charged forward and threw an astute pass to Gudgeon, who made 60 metres down the left wing and then passed infield to Hughes. Hughes then offloaded to Hodkinson, who showed his class with a long kick that put Heath Gibbs through for an easy try.
With the half time score 28-6, the Knights brought off the majority of the more experienced players for a spell and Hodkinson finished his game entirely.
The Seagulls took the opportunity to bounce back with several tries, Tevita Folou and Ethan Price powering over in quick succession.
The Knights regained their stranglehold of the game in the final quarter as the likes of Phythian, Josh King, Mataora and Paea returned, Phythian scoring his second 18 minutes from time.
Eight minutes later the Seagulls scored their final try of the match when winger David Sheridan intercepted a pass and ran 90 metres to dive over beneath the uprights.
The Knights had the final say though, Hughes collecting his second to make the final score 38-22.
Knights 38 (T: Cogger, Gibbs, Phythian 2, Gudgeon 2, Hughes 2. G: Hodkinson 4/5, McNamara 1/1, Pearsall 0/1)