A fierce first half from Kurt Mann and some kicking prowess coming from Mason Lino proved vital in the Newcastle Knights 26-12 win over the Brisbane Broncos on home turf on Saturday evening.
It was an aggressive start by the Knights who challenged the Broncos defensive line.
An early mistake by Edrick Lee, with a dropped catch off the high ball, had the nerves going but lucky for Newcastle they got the ball back after a sloppy obstruction by Brisbane.
In the ninth minute it was a great job by Kurt Mann to drive the ball forward and a tricky pass over defenders to Edrick Lee on the edge awarded the Knights their first points.
Mason Lino nailed it through the uprights to see the Knights take the early lead, 6-0.
The Broncos were forced into several errors as the Knights piled on the pressure and a late offload, double pump by Mann found Lachlan Fitzgibbon for his third try of the season. Lino added the extras to extend Newcastle’s lead, 12-0 after 19 minutes.
Mitchell Pearce kicked a grubber off the fifth tackle and it was too hard to handle for the Broncos. The referee ruled a knock on and it was back in red and blue hands.
That set up a brilliant play by the Knights as Lino charged towards the line and swung the ball out wide to Shaun Kenny-Dowall who dived over for the Knights third try of the evening.
Lino was on-song as he nailed another conversion to stretch the Knights to a 18-0 lead.
The Broncos worked the edge and the ball fell into the hands of Corey Oates as he strode towards the line, but a forward pass was ruled, and it was back in Knights possession.
There was a run of penalties against the Knights, although it didn’t matter as Newcastle continued to dominate. Pearce went for the field goal just before the halftime buzzer, but it was charged down. The Knights led 18-0 into the break.
In the second, an early dropped ball put the Knights on the back foot before James Gavet was bizzarely sin binned for too many penalties.
That laid the platform for the Broncos first points of the match. Thomas Flegler found the line on the right edge and it 18-6 to the Knights.
Suddenly the Knights kicked into gear and started to exert some force in their defensive sets. A big mistake in the kick-out as Anthony Milford waited too long and the buzzer went before it dropped.
Pearce made the call to take the kick, and Lino dropped it with ease. The Knights led 20-6.
The Broncos were gifted their next points. A loose carry by Hymel Hunt spilled out to see the Brisbane pick up the crumbs and send Kotoni Staggs to the line. Knights led by just eight points after 60 minutes.
In the 68th minute a stellar play from Knights centre Jesse Ramien. He side stepped his way past a run of defenders before he offloaded to Lino who finished it with a 15-metre try. Lino converted his own try to see the Knights charge in-front 26-12.
Knights 26 (T: Lee, Fitzgibbon, Kenny-Dowall, Lino G: Lino 4/4, PG: Lino 1/1)