In front of a roaring red and blue crowd of 25,929, the Newcastle Knights put on a masterclass to down a stunned Sydney Roosters 38-12 at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Kalyn Ponga and skipper Mitchell Pearce again led the way and fed off an electric atmosphere, while Connor Watson thrived in hooker after an injury to Danny Levi.
An early turnover via a sneaky strip from Daniel Saifiti, saw a panicked Roosters scramble to hold up the Knights and in doing so forced the penalty.
Ponga opted for the kick 25 metres out and nailed it for the first points of the night. Knights led 2-0 after just a few minutes.
Moments later a flick pass out the back from Luke Keary went horribly wrong for the visitors, to find Hymel Hunt on the run. The Knights centre dashed past several defenders to find the line and score. Ponga added the extras to see an 8-0 lead to Newcastle.
A blow for the Knights as Levi was assisted off the field with a leg injury and once play resumed the red and blue piled on the pressure against a stunned Roosters defence.
A clever kick from skipper Pearce forced a knock-on from the Sydney team 10 metres out and it eventuated in a penalty. Ponga again took the kick and extended their lead to 10-0 after 17 minutes.
Highlights: Pearce shines in Knights victory
Down the other end, quick thinking from Roosters fullback James Tedesco, who took the quick tap off a penalty. He caught the Knights by surprise and weaved his way to the line. Add a Latrell Mitchell conversion and it was 10-6 to the Knights.
Continued pressure from the Knights forced a goal line drop-out to see the home side regain possession and a bit of Ponga magic saw his trademark step to the line past three defenders.
The star fullback extended the arm out to slam the ball on the green and converted his own try to push Newcastle in-front 16-6.
Uncharacteristic from the Roosters, another error with a dropped ball in the ruck, and with just a minute and a half to go before halftime, an aggressive Knights stormed towards the line.
From side to side, the seconds ticked down before it landed in Ponga’s hands and a bullet pass to the captain saw him sprint to the line and slide over with the ball in hand. Ponga sent it through the uprights to lead 22-6 into the break.
Sign up for a free NRL Account to access this video and other exclusive content.
Not sure? Learn more about an NRL Account.
In the second half, the wave of momentum fuelled the Knights and this time it was Connor Watson out of dummy half to fire. He put the accelerator on and sprinted through a gap to slide over. Ponga no mistake on the kick and it was a 28-6 ball game.
Continued pressure kept the Roosters on their toes and it forced yet another penalty just 10 in-front. Ponga kept his perfect record and nailed the kick to push it to 30-6.
A big hit by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves on Ponga got the blood flowing and pushed the Knights harder for some bone-crunching tackles.
The Roosters couldn't contain the drive of the Knights to force yet another penalty in front of the sticks. With Ponga off, Mitch Barnett took the kick and added the two.
In the 70th minute the crowd went wild, Pearce guided a pin-point cut away to Edrick Lee on the edge and he dived over for another try. Barnett snagged the conversion for an unbeatable 38-6 lead.
Ponga goes solo and delivers
Despite being nearly down and out the Roosters picked themselves up and found the line in the 73rd minute via Siosiua Taukeiaho.
But the hard work, grit and determination from the red and blue paid off as they sailed to a comfortable 38-12 win over the Roosters and their fifth impeccable win on the trot.
Knights 38 (T: Hunt, Ponga, Pearce, Watson, Lee G: Ponga 4/4, PG: Ponga 3/3, Barnett 2/2)