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Pearce the hero as Knights book finals spot

A clutch Mitchell Pearce field goal in the dying seconds has seen the nib Newcastle Knights lock in a place in the NRL Finals with a 15-14 win over the Gold Coast in a tense clash at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Described as the most important match of the round in terms of the final make up of the top eight, a healthy crowd watched on in beautiful conditions in Queensland.

It was the Knights' big guns, Pearce and Kalyn Ponga, who stood tall in a match that really could've gone either way.

The two key spine players were in everything, producing key plays at the back end of each half to keep the Knights in a contest where they were largely on the back foot.

First points went to the Titans, with former Knight Beau Fermor setting up Phillip Sami down the Titans right edge.

In fact, it was all the Titans in the opening stages.

The Knights defence held firm, with O'Brien's side more than happy to enter a first half arm wrestle.

The persistence paid off, with Ponga dazzling his way to the line in the 25th minute to level the scores.

Ponga looks to spark the Knights with a little big of magic

The only response came in similar fashion from the Titans, with David Fifita muscling his way over in a moment of magic just before the break.

This left the Knights trailing 12-6 at the break.

It wasn't a surprising scoreline given the dominance of the Gold Coast throughout the half, with the side from the glitter strip going into the sheds having had 59% of the ball.

It was a similar story in the second half, with basic errors in the ruck constantly placing the Knights on the back foot.

Defensively though, they barely missed a beat.

It was again rewarded when Pearce stepped his way to the line, levelling the scores at 12-12.

Ponga and Pearce combine to get the Knights back level

A penalty for a late shot on the No.7 in the 70th minute allowed Jake Clifford to slot two points from in front, putting the Knights in front for the first time in the game.

The final stages were fraught with nervy moments, with Bradman Best forced to run down Corey Thompson from behind in a classic rugby league try saver.

The joy was short-lived, with the Titans slotting the equaliser after a getting a penalty of their own inside the final five minutes.

The Knights didn't panic with scores level, with each side missing shots as the crowd on the Sunshine Coast held their collective breath.

Ultimately, it was Pearce who slotted the one pointer in the 80th minute from right in front, securing the Knights 7th on the table and a place in the finals after wrapping up their fifth straight win.