The nib Newcastle Knights dug deep to defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons 21-14 at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
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Two tries came in the first 15 minutes for the Knights but despite a comeback from the Dragons, the red and blues held off the visitors to hit the lead in the final ten minutes.
Six minutes in, a short kick and collect from Brock Lamb got the Knights their first. Trent Hodkinson was successful with the conversion, to lead 6-0.
Soon after Lamb lined up with a high kick and a leaping Shaun Kenny-Dowall gathered in the air to slam the ball down. A conversion from Hodkinson stretched Newcastle’s lead to 12-0 after ten minutes.
In magnificent style, Nathan Ross made a diving try-saving tackle on the left edge before off the back of second phase play, front rower Paul Vaughan muscled his way to the line for the Dragons' first in the 22nd minute. With Gareth Widdop's successful conversion, the Knights led 12-6.
In the 32nd minute, the Dragons’ Tim Lafai dived over in the left corner but the referee pulled it back and the bunker denied the try, ruling a knock-on in the build-up.
Minutes later a second Dragons try was denied and soon after, a penalty allowed Hodkinson to kick for the two points and extend the Knights lead 14-6.
Just before the half time siren sounded, Tariq Sims rolled through a Knights pack to cross over. The Knights led 14-12 at the break.
In the second half, it was end to end football until a penalty off the ball saw Widdop kick for the two points in the 60th minute. The scores were levelled 14-all.
In the 72nd minute, Josh King popped a ball for Jacob Saifiti to score and the Knights regained the lead, 20-14.
In the last two minutes Hodkinson nailed a field goal to seal the win, 21-14.
Newcastle Knights 21 (T: Lamb, Kenny-Dowall, J. Saifiti, G: Hodkinson 3/3, PG: Hodkinson 1/1, FG: Hodkinson 1)
St George Illawarra Dragons 14 (T: Vaughan, Sims, G: Widdop 2/2, PG: Widdop)