A classy performance from Mason Lino has helped the Newcastle Knights record a hard-fought 20-16 win over the New Zealand Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Opening the 2020 Canterbury Cup NSW season at home, the Knights showed plenty of strike across the park to emerge with two premiership points in a match where goal kicking proved the difference.
Converting at 100%, setting up the opening try and controlling the match with his kicking game, Lino showed his talents to give NRL coach Adam O’Brien plenty of confidence in the depth of his playmakers.
In rain-affected conditions the Knights struck an early blow through Zac Hosking to open the scoring in the fifth minute following a well-placed grubber from Lino.
Hitting back in the 15th minute through Adam Keighran, the Warriors halfback latched onto an intercept before streaking 50 metres to touch down underneath the black dot.
Reclaiming the lead in the 26th minute via a Lino penalty from close range, the advantage proved to be short lived as returning Warriors junior Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard (29th minute) marked his return to the club with a bulldozing run over Luke Sharpe to give the visitors a 12-8 lead.
Striking back on the stroke of halftime through Jack Cameron, the Newcastle interchange forward showed a tonne of determination to carry several defenders over the line to give the Knights a 14-12 lead at the change of ends.
With ball handling proving an issue for both sides after the resumption of play, the Warriors looked to post the opening four-pointer of the second half only for a double movement call to deny the New Zealanders in the 52nd minute.
Producing the try of the match in the 65th minute through late inclusion Matt Cooper, a tremendous break by Chris Randall and flick pass from Tyronne Roberts-Davis set up the Newcastle winger for his first try in the Canterbury Cup NSW.
Holding on in the dying stages despite a late left side raid finished off by Warriors fullback Rocco Berry (74th minute), the Knights prevailed with a 20-16 victory.
Next week - pending further Coronavirus developments - the Knights face Western Suburbs on Sunday afternoon at Leichardt Oval.