The Newcastle Knights have tasted victory after seven long weeks of misery with a 16-6 win over Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the opening match of Magic Round 2022.
Claiming their third win from ten matches to surpass their opponents off the bottom of the NRL ladder, the Knights overcame two bombed tries in the second half to secure the result courtesy of a late four-pointer to Adam Clune.
Opening the scoring via a Kalyn Ponga penalty goal during the opening minutes, the Knights posted the first try of Magic Round with Ponga finding Bradman Best down a short side, who offloaded to send Edrick Lee (14th minute) over for his first try in the NRL since the final round of the 2020 season.
Taking a fixated approach to attacking through Matt Burton's kicking game, the Bulldogs produced a result midway through the half after a grubber close to the try line allowed Josh Addo-Carr (20th minute) to outpace Dominic Young to the ball.
Adding a penalty goal through Burton in the latter stages of the first 40 minutes, the Knights were unable to capitalise on late opportunities to leave the scores level at 6-all.
Appearing to strike early after halftime through Daniel Saifiti - only for the bunker to overturn the on-field decision for an obstruction - the Knights disappointment was short-lived with Ponga exposing the Bulldogs rushing goal line defence and sending Best (48th minute) over for his third try of the season.
In a nervous second half for both side, Newcastle forwards Leo Thompson and Pasami Saulo were left to rue missed opportunities over the try line with Thompson spilling a pass from Phoenix Crossland, while Saulo failed to properly ground a grubber from Clune.
Securing the result in the final minutes following a fortuitous line drop out ruling, Clune (75th minute) broke through to score his first try in red and blue and seal the ten-point win.
Next week, the Bulldogs face the Tigers at Leichardt Oval in the early game on Friday, while the Knights return home to take on the Broncos on Thursday evening.