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First half domination sets up merciless Knights victory over the Cowboys

The nib Newcastle Knights have scored their most dominant win of the 2021 season so far with a 38-0 drubbing of the North Queensland Cowboys at McDonald Jones Stadium.

A scintillating first-half display and a devastating Kalyn Ponga on his return game highlighted a huge Newcastle victory in Round 16.

In front of a COVID-safe 7,610 crowd, the red and blue enjoyed the fruits of a full-strength spine at the peak of their powers.

The result was the first time the Knights have held a team to nil this season and the first since Round 15 last year, coincidentally against the Cowboys.

The Knights were off to the perfect start when the returning Ponga made his way over two minutes into the contest.

A towering Dom Young came down with a high-ball and found the fullback who swivelled under the Cowboys defence to open the scoring.

The Cowboys nearly had a quick reply when Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow went on a thrilling solo-run.

The centre showcased his blinding speed to almost produce an incredible try but was ruled to have put a foot out on his attempt to ground the ball.

Soon after, North Queensland won the ball back in their own end and were on the counter, however a determined Jake Clifford produced an incredible intercept to regain possession.

From the ensuing set, Mitchell Pearce found a hard-running Jacob Saifiti and the prop barged his way to the line for the Knights second in the 13th minute.

The try was Saifiti's first of the season and Clifford added the extras to make it 10-0 after 15 minutes.

The Knights were dominating field position in the opening stages and Dom Young almost made it a third try but was denied by double movement.

Newcastle weren't to be denied minutes later with Connor Watson finding the line.

Kurt Mann caught a Clifford kick close to the line and offloaded to Watson who scored under the posts and notch his first try of the season.

The Knights continued the first-half onslaught immediately from the kick-off.

Quick hands down the left-hand side found a flying Dom Young and a lightning-quick Ponga received the ball on the inside to score the Knights fourth of the night.

After the dominant opening, the home side withstood a few sets on their own line to keep the Cowboys to nil at the change of ends.

Following the break, the Knights completed highly at around 84% to keep the pressure on the away side.

The red and blue were finding joy through the Cowboys middle defence with a devastating running metres count compared to the opposition.

Hymel Hunt, playing his 100th game in the NRL, nearly produced a milestone try but was brought short of the line at the 55th minute mark.

Hunt was awarded a penalty for a rake and Newcastle were back on the attack.

With 20 minutes to play, the match was stagnating towards the finish before Kalyn Ponga again brought the crowd to their feet.

The fullback broke through the line and produce his trademark 'goose' step to move past Holmes before turning the ball inside to Dom Young.

The Englishmen found the line to keep the scoreboard rolling for the Knights and notch his second try in the top grade.

The free-flowing attack continued in the 67th minute and Young would have his second.

A high-kick again caused problems for the Cowboys and Ponga was on the spot to take the ball and put in a pin-point kick for an open Young.

Before the end of the game, Enari Tuala produced a terrific solo run from deep inside the Knights half.

Watson put the icing on the cake to score under the sticks and cue the celebrations amongst the Knights ranks.

The full-time siren sounded around McDonald Jones Stadium with the Knights keeping the Cowboys at bay to produce a monumental home win.

The result is a huge step in the right direction for the Knights in their pursuit of finals football.