A near-perfect first half fired Newcastle to a 26-12 win over the Brisbane Broncos at McDonald Jones Stadium at the weekend.
Despite losing star fullback Kalyn Ponga pre-game, his replacement Kurt Mann stepped up to produce the final pass for the Knights’ first two tries for Edrick Lee and Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
With the home side up 12-0, playmaker Mason Lino then floated a long ball for Shaun Kenny-Dowall to dive over in the corner.
A desperate Broncos outfit, staring at a third straight loss, hit back early in the second half.
Thomas Flegler took advantage of the extra numbers to finish off a second phase play after Newcastle forward James Gavet was sent to the sin bin.
Lino then booted a penalty goal to make it 20-6, before Brisbane capitalised on another Knights error.
Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs picked up the loose ball close to the Knights line and strolled across to stun the 24,397-strong crowd.
However, a barnstorming run from centre Jesse Ramien saw him steamroll Darius Boyd and produce an offload for Lino, who raced away to seal the game.
Newcastle sits in fifth position on the NRL ladder ahead of a round 15 showdown with New Zealand Warriors at home.
The clash kicks off at 7.30pm this Saturday 6 July.
Meanwhile, Ponga has been ruled out for two weeks with a calf injury, meaning he will miss State of Origin III.
Ponga was injured during Queensland’s 38-6 loss to NSW in game two.
The decider will take place on Wednesday 10 July from 8.10pm at ANZ Stadium.