You could’ve cut the tension with a knife as the nib Newcastle Knights kicked off for the first time in 2019 against the Cronulla Sharks.
For the next 80 minutes, it was a thrilling display of football from the red and blue who were able to grind out a scintillating 14-8 win.
It was an aggressive start from the men in red and blue, David Klemmer bursting out the blocks with some bone crushing hits and 100 per cent tackle efficiency, while Tim Glasby showed rock solid form guarding the middle.
Minutes in, the crowd roared as Cronulla knocked on just a metre from the line, but the home side just couldn’t capitalise.
A stunning defensive set followed with the Sharks gaining just 30 metres, but they quickly got out of trouble with a mammoth 60 metre kick down field.
Again the line was just a sniff away for the Knights as Mitchell Pearce passed out wide to Edrick Lee on the left. The tall winger had it on his fingertips but it just didn’t stick.
Nothing seemed to go the way of the visitors as Newcastle forced error after error, although the scoreboard maintained a lonely nil-all.
In the 17th minute, a rush of excitement as a trademark Pearce high kick guided Shaun Kenny-Dowall to the line, but the bunker ruled he lost control and it was a no try.
The mistakes continued to come thick and fast from the Sharks, with confident penetration coming from the Knights.
Mitch Barnett came on in the 27th minute and made an instant impact with a penalty 30 metres out. Daniel Saifiti charged at the line, but Cronulla had it covered, the big man held up.
Neither side could make a dent on the scoreboard by halftime and it was nil-all after 40.
Following the break, it was almost a heart attack for Newcastle fans as Sione Katoa raced towards the line and slammed it down for the Sharks.
A sigh of relief after the referee ruled an illegal tap back by the winger, and it was a no try.
With one less body in defence, as Daniel Saifiti was helped from the field, the Knights gave up a penalty, to see Shaun Johnson opt for the kick and record the first two points of the game.
A comedy or errors down the other end saw Matt Moylan drop a high ball, shank the kick out before a penalty gifted a Newcastle kick. Kalyn Ponga nailed the two points and it was 2-all after 49 minutes.
The Knights were inspiration as they forced the 16th penalty from the visitors but again Newcastle just couldn’t convert.
The Sharks never gave up and charged down field with a run down the left side, but a last-ditch attempt saw Pearce save a possible try before it was back in red and blue hands.
And then there was some magic; out of dummy half into the safe hands of Pearce and a quick off-load to Tim Glasby saw the forward stride over for the Knights first.
Ponga made make no mistake with the conversion and it was 8-2 Newcastle with ten minutes to go.
The Sharks staged their reply within minutes with a penalty try awarded after Katoa was held back by Lee. The conversion from Johnson, levelled the match at 8-all.
But Lee was quick to right his wrongs and made an intercept 20 metres out to stride those long legs out for an almost length of the field try.
Ponga nailed the kick and it was 14-8 to the Knights with four minutes on the clock.
Knights 14 ( Glasby, Lee G: Ponga 2/2 PG: Ponga 1/1 )