The Newcastle Knights have taken a huge step towards securing a place in the finals after outlasting the Cronulla Sharks 16-14 on Sunday afternoon.
Securing the victory with a long-range Jake Clifford penalty goal seven minutes from fulltime, the win sees the Knights move into outright seventh on the ladder with games against the Bulldogs, Titans and Broncos to come over the final weeks of the home-and-away season.
The win may come at a huge cost for the Knights however with enforcer Daniel Saifiti sustaining a knee injury during the closing stages of the match.
Registering the fastest try of the season after regathering the kick-off, Enari Tuala (1st minute) ran onto a cut-out ball from Mitchell Pearce to get the Knights on the board after 36 seconds.
Making the most of a penalty inside the visitor's half, Jesse Ramien (11th minute) locked the scores up following an offload from Briton Nikora which created created space for the one-time Newcastle centre down the right edge.
Clifford added a penalty goal midway through the first half, however the lead was short-lived as Ronaldo Mulitalo cleaned up a dropped bomb from Kurt Mann to put the Sharks in front.
With both teams vying for a place in the top eight, the Sharks held a slender 12-8 lead at the change of ends following a spiteful opening 40 minutes which saw Braden Hamlin-Uele, Nikora and David Klemmer all placed on report.
Returning from the sheds with renewed intensity, a bullocking run and flick pass from Bradman Best allowed Tuala (45th minute) to collect for his second with a remarkable effort to contort his body close to the sideline.
Mitchell Barnett produced a try-saving effort on Nikora a few sets later only for the bunker to intervene for high contact; Braydon Trindall kicked the subsequent penalty goal from next to the posts.
Taking advantage of good field position resulting from a Cronulla error, Clifford tied the scores up at 14-all with 15 minutes left on the clock.
With the match poised to go down to the wire, Barnett produced a momentum-shifting strip on Luke Metcalf to give the Knights the ascendancy.
The decisive moment occurred in the 73rd minute when Kalyn Ponga was tackled without the ball; Clifford stepped up from 35 metres out to nail the penalty and give the Knights a hard-fought 16-14 win.
The win was a fitting result for Newcastle utility Connor Watson who celebrated his 100th first grade appearance on the day.
Next week, the Sharks will face the Tigers on Saturday afternoon in Rockhampton, while the Knights will take on the Bulldogs later in the day on the Gold Coast.