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Rivalries: Knights v Roosters

Rugby League has been built on tribalism and representing your town and your colours.

From such stoic traditions, fierce rivalries have been forged by competitors battling it out for supremacy.

The nib Newcastle Knights will face one of their longest rivals in the Sydney Roosters this Saturday night at McDonald Jones Stadium.

From the clutch matches in the late 90's to early 00's, to Joey and Freddy's running battles and all the way up to Mitchell Pearce kissing the badge after a try against his former club, there has certainly been plenty of rich history between the two clubs.

In this edition of Rivalries, we take a look back at a select group of classic games between the Knights and the Roosters ahead of Round 8.

Here is our Top Five encounters:

Joey's Rd.8 Preview: Walker threat, Ponga's form and boom rookies

Round 15 1997: Knights 14-14 Roosters - 'All Square in a Muddy Affair'

We kick things off with a classic game from the premiership-winning year of 1997.

On a wet and dreary Friday night in Newcastle in front of just over 6,500 fans, the Knights and Roosters fought out a bloody battle in muddy conditions.

It was a war of attrition from the off-set as neither team crossed the stripe in the opening half, however the Roosters took a 4-0 lead into the break courtesy of two penalty goals.

An early try in the second half to the then-Sydney City Roosters put them out to a 8-0 lead.

The Knights clawed their way back into the contest with try to Robbie O'Davis only a few minutes later.

The unsung hero of the 97' season, Leo Dynevor, was wearing the No.7 jumper in the absence of Andrew Johns who only featured eight times in the regular season that year.

With the scores locked at 8-8 after a penalty goal, Dynevor thought he had won the game for the red and blue after a special play.

Dynevor faked to kick a field goal, instead spreading the ball wide to Owen Craigie. Craigie offloaded back to his No.7 who used his footwork to score with five minutes to play.

Dynevor converted his try to make it 14-6 and appear to win the game for Newcastle.

However, the Roosters pulled a rabbit out of the hat with an incredible phase of play in the dying seconds.

With a minute and half to go, Brad Fittler chipped over the top and found a flying Andrew Walker. 

Walker kicked ahead into the in-goal and Luke Ricketson won the race to the ball to score before a young Ivan Cleary kicked the goal on the full-time siren to steal a point for the Roosters.

Preliminary Final 2000: Sydney Roosters 26-20 Newcastle Knights - 'The One that Got Away' 

In the midst of the Knights golden era, the two clubs met in an unforgettable Premliminary Final at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2000.

Boasting a plethora of stars including the Johns brothers, Robbie O'Davis, Timana Tahu, Matt Gidley, Danny Buderus and Steve Simpson while Warren Ryan was the head coach, the Knights had assembled an almighty team.

On the other side, the Roosters had Brad Fittler and Adrian Lam in the halves, a young Anthony Minichello on the wing and a strong forward pack with the likes of Craig Fitzgibbon and Ricketson.

The Knights were heavy favourites with the experience of 97' behind them and having destroyed the Roosters 46-12 a few weeks earlier.

The match was underway and the red and blue raced to a 16-2 half time lead, with tries to Mark Hughes, Andrew Johns and Darren Albert.

The Knights were so dominant, the second half seemed to be little more than a formality on their way to a second appearance at the Big Dance.

According to Robert Dillon's book Hard Yards, Warren Ryan shocked his team at the break by insisting on switching to up-and-in defence, as opposed to the sliding style which had been working so well in the opening 40 minutes.

The Roosters, led by Fittler, were alerted to the Knights change of defensive strategy, exposing it to storm to a 26-16 lead with four successive tries in 15 minutes.

The shell-shocked Knights had little answer, with Andrew Johns even throwing a rare intercept pass to a flying Fittler for the Chooks’ second try.

By full-time, the Knights had crashed out of the competition, with the final score reading 26-20.

The Roosters would go down in the grand final to the Brisbane Broncos 14-6.

The match long lived in the memory bank of the Knights ranks heading into the 2001 season.

Qualifying Final 2001: Newcastle Knights 40-6 Sydney Roosters - 'Success is the Best Form of Revenge'

Fast forward a year, the two clubs would meet again in the finals.

The Knights were fuelled by the heartbreak of the Roosters defeat the previous year and were determined to make a return to the Grand Final.

Off the back of huge wins over Penrith and North Queensland, the eventual premiers charged into the finals to finish third.

In Michael Hagan's first year as coach, they welcomed the challenge of the Roosters in the opening week of the finals series and left no stone unturned this time around.

The Knights sent the Chooks packing, running riot in front a strong home crowd of just over 22,000.

A sole Minichello try in the first half was the only joy for the Tricolours as the Knights ran in 6 tries.

Matthew Gidley would score a double while Andrew Johns, Ben Kennedy, Adam MacDougall and Timana Tahu all notched four-pointers in the qualifying final victory.

The Knights would earn a week off before defeating Cronulla in the preliminary final to march onto the Grand Final to play Parramatta.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Round 19 2007: Newcastle Knights 17-20 Sydney Roosters - 'Edge of your Seat Finale'

A few years down the line, Newcastle and the Roosters played out a thriller in the later rounds of 2007.

With both sides desperately needing a win to keep their finals hopes alive, there was plenty on the line when the two sides met in front of 15,171 fans in Newcastle.

The Knights jumped out to a handy lead, however by half-time the Roosters had reduced the scoreline to just 12-10.

A Luke Walsh field goal looked to have gotten the Knights home, before an inexperienced young winger named Mitch Aubusson crossed out wide to get the Chooks home.

The result kick-started the Roosters' season, with the Bondi Club coming within one point of a shock finals berth, while the Knights slumped to a 15th place finish.

Round 11 2019: Newcastle Knights 38-12 Sydney Roosters - 'Pearce Comes Back to Haunt his Former Side'

We finish with the Newcastle Knights most recent victory over the Chooks which was a memorable night in 2019 for our current No.7, Mitchell Pearce.

Coming off the back of some man-of-the match Pearce performances, the playmaker and his troops came into the game against the reigning premiers full of confidence.

Add to the fact Mitchell was playing his former team with a point to prove, the stage was set for a special night.

A flurry of Newcastle tries on the brink of the half-time stunned the Roosters and the Knights didn't look back.

Mitchell Pearce crossed on the night on the brink of the half-time siren to the uproar of the Newcastle crowd.

He famously kissed the badge in celebration.

Magical Ponga provides for Pearce

Tries to Hymel Hunt, Kalyn Ponga, Connor Watson (who was also playing his former team) and Edrick Lee spelled a momentous night in front just under 26,000 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Knights secured a memorable 38-12 victory to notch five wins on the trot.

The side unfortunately went onto miss the finals while the Roosters rebounded and went onto win another premiership.