The Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights put on a dominant display to beat Illawarra 32-20 at Jubilee Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Despite trailing by two points at halftime, a handy hat-trick by Knights winger Tom Hughes helped the visitors to a Round 16 victory.
It was some great work in the middle from the Knights to gift Hughes his first try of the day. Trent Hodkinson kicked the conversion to put the Knights into an early lead 6-0.
Knights winger Thomas Cronan was on the end of a precision kick by Hodkinson to cross over for Newcastle’s second in the 17th minute. Hodkinson's converstion from the sideline put the Knights ahead 12-0.
Illawarra’s Izaac Thompson got through on the left edge to score the home side's first try in the 22nd minute, before Matthew Dufty shrugged off the defence to dive over. Two missed conversions kept the Knights in front 12-8.
With four minutes before the halftime siren, Illawarra’s Jai Field intercepted a pass to run 80 metres to snatch the lead 14-12 going into the break.
In the second half, Hughes’ records the double with a quick play in the 46th minute to see the Knights back in-front, 16-14.
Fullback Nick Meaney showed some fancy footwork to set up a try for five-eighth Jack Cogger in the 50th minute for the Knights to extend their lead 22-14.
There was further success on the left edge, with Hughes crossing over for his third in the 65th minute before a big play back from injury, Chanel Mata’utia weaved his way through the defence to dive over under the posts.
In the final minute of the match, Illawarra crossed on the left side for Thompson’s second, but the Knights take home the win, 32-20.
Newcastle 32 (T: Hughes 3, Cronan, Cogger, C Mata’utia, G: Hodkinson 4/6)
Illawarra 20 (T: Thompson 2, Duffy, Field, G: Nona 0/2, Field 2/2)
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Tom Hughes, 23. Cory Denniss, 4. Chanel Mata’utia, 5. Thomas Cronan, 6. Jack Cogger, 7. Trent Hodkinson (c), 8. Mickey Paea, 14. Will Pearsall, 17. Pauli Pauli, 11. Braden Smith, 15. Braden Robson, 13. Jack Stockwell. Interchange: 9. Tom Starling, 16. Pat Mata’utia, 20. Tyrone Amey, 21. Sam Bernstrom.
1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Kalifa Faifai Loa, 3. Reuben Garrick, 4. Patrick Herbert, 5. Izaac Thompson, 6. Jai Field, 7. Shaun Nona, 8. Josh Kerr, 9. Jake Marketo, 16. Jacob Hind, 11. Will Matthews, 12. Luciano Leilua, 13. Tyrone McCarthy. Interchange: 14. Reece Robson, 17. Rhys Kennedy, 18. Jesse Dee, 19. Mose Masoe.