Newcastle have snapped their losing streak, defeating an error filled North Queensland side, 36-28 in front of 11,925 fans at Hunter Stadium tonight.
Both teams were circling the drain, for season 2014. They were several games outside the top eight with the games played reducing every week, Newcastle had to win and so did, the weary travelers North Queensland.
On a night that was near-must win for the Knights, it got off to an auspious start. Darius Boyd who has been figure of ridicule for most home fans spilled a gentle bomb from Johnathan Thurston, allowing Antonion Winterstein to wrestle his way across the line.
Following the early shock, Newcastle woke up, finally in the cold conditions. Beau Scott strongarmed the ball from a Cowboy earning the home side possesion. They shifted it left to Joseph Leilua who finished the chain of passing.
Waking the beast, might have been the wrong option for the Cowboys who couldn't find the rhythm of the opening ten minutes. Beau Scott once again found himself, central to the attacking play, swatting away Thurston, much like in origin before gifting Darius Boyd a try right under the sticks.
Trailing on the scoreboard, away from home and in cold conditions. The Cowboys could be forgiven for turning up their toes but they were gifted attacking opportunities that like a gift from an unpleasant Aunt were ushered to the shadows quickly.
Newcastle though, would add to their misery when Kurt Gidley moved from his hooking position to the halves turned on a solo effort. The former origin star spun out of one tackle on the floor, rolled over and made it a ten point lead at halftime. The out of sorts Knights had a precious lead to defend going into the second half.
Going into the second half, the first grade fixture descended into a Holden Cup type fixture with seven tries shared by the two sides that are housed outside the top eight. Newcastle continued their assault on the North Queensland right-sided defense when Dane Gagai unleashed magical footwork to score twice, once in the 50th after a standing start. The second was a classic centre try as he got outside his man to plant it down in the 66th minute.
Wayne Bennett knew he had to make a tough call, to resurrect the Knights season and he changed the halves pairing, going with Mullen and Gidley with Roberts coming from the bench. The now interchange player, found himself in the right place after Robbie Rochow offloaded to Darius Boyd who found the halfback extending the lead to 22.
Knowing they had the game safe in their possession, the defense slacked from both sides. Cowboys efforts in the second half, came from simple efforts. Sims in the 62nd minute from a Michael Morgan dart. The fullback repeated that again for a double to the North Queensland halfback, who ran a combined ten metres for both efforts.
Most of these, came after Akuila Uate steam-rolled his opposite number after the brothers Sims got involved in a stripping call. Uate continued his impressive try-scoring feat at Hunter Stadium but overall Wayne Bennett will be pleased, scoring 36 points but less so, conceding 28 after Curtis Rona slid in right on the full-time buzzer.