The Newcastle Knights are just one win away from the right to host an elimination final in Newcastle, with a 42-18 win against the Dragons who didn't put up much of a fight.
The writing was on the wall that this would be a big margin right from the outset, with the home side scoring in the third and seventh minute through Kalyn Ponga and Gehamat Shibasaki. Ponga was on the end of a break from rookie hooker Chris Randall, while Shibasaki took to the air to pluck the ball out of the Dragons' hands.
The one way traffic continued, with Kalyn Ponga again proving his attacking prowess by chinking across field and putting Aidan Guerra through a hole in final regular season home game of his career.
The Knights were scoring them in batches, and 3 minutes after the Guerra try Daniel Saifiti took advantage of some soft Dragons defence to reach out and make it a 22 point lead. There were 3 Dragons holding on to the big man but none of them thought to secure the ball, with Saifiti using his long reach to score the try.
The onslaught was put on hold for a bit and the Dragons even looked as if they could mount a comeback of sorts when Zac Lomax scored for them 3 minutes before half time. The Dragons had the advantage of a set start from a scrum and Matt Dufty scouted the Newcastle defence with a cross field run, before handing it off to Lomax who beat a few defenders on his way to the line.
Any joy Dragons fans had was short lived, however. Rookie Cody Ramsey had an unfortunate moment when he dropped the kick off and handed possession straight back to the home side. They were able to capitalise, with Mitchell Pearce this time the provider to Enari Tuala, who ran through a gap that was becoming all too familiar for the Knights to make the scoreline 30-6 at the break.
The Knights waited 12 minutes to pile on the 2nd half points, with Jacob Saifiti this time barging over to make it the first time ever that both the Saifiti twins had scored in the same NRL match.
The Dragons didn't lie down as much as they had in the first 40 however, with Corey Norman scoring for them 6 minutes later. Lomax was again in the thick of it, creating space for his outside man Cody Ramsey who showed great speed to get away from the Knights winger. The pass on the inside to Norman wasn't great but got the job done, and the margin was back to 24.
In the final 10 minutes, Tuala scored try number 2 in similar fashion to his first, while Lomax again proved his worth to the Dragons when he out-leapt Kalyn Ponga to score his second, equally impressive try. It wasn't enough however, the final score 42-18 to the Knights.
Next week, the Knights will look to put the home final beyond doubt with a win against a strong Titans outfit on the Gold Coast, while it doesn't get any easier for the Dragons who will return home to face the Storm.