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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The Newcastle Knights have reasserted their spot in the top four with a hard-fought 20-12 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium.
In a heated affair it was the composure of Mitchell Pearce and Mason Lino that steered the Knights home. South Sydney, on the other hand, struggled without regular halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds, lacking direction and polish in attack.
But it was 16 errors that ultimately brought Wayne Bennett's men undone.
It was their second-straight loss after the understrength Bunnies fell 26-14 to Parramatta last week. After a strong start to 2019 Bennett will need to rally his men together or risk having their good work undone during the Origin period.
Sam Burgess (shoulder) may be joined by brother Thomas on the sidelines after he was sin-binned for a potential headbutt late in the first half. He was one of four players given their marching orders as tensions boiled over. Both Daniel Saifiti and Thomas Burgess were binned for throwing punches while Sam also found himself sent to the sheds.
It capped off a frustrating half for the home side, who fell to a 12-6 defecit by the break.
James Roberts made a shaky start to his South Sydney return when Hymel Hunt ran over the top of him to score the opener in the 3rd minute. But he redeemed himself shortly after when he stormed onto an Adam Doueihi chip and muscled his way over the line.
Mason Lino was a late inclusion for Friday night's game after Kalyn Ponga was rested, and he put his stamp on the game in the 26th minute when he double pumped before putting Mitchell Barnett through a gaping hole to score.
The final minutes of the first half were anything but uneventful though as four men were sent to the bin in a dramatic end to proceedings.
While Damien Cook has long been seen as a threat from dummy-half, it was Knights rake Connor Watson who was the surprise.
A break from the 22-year old handed Newcastle prime field position early in the second forty. And soon after Watson scooted out of dummy-half to score.
Sam Burgess ran straight and hard to surge over late but it meant little, the Knights holding on for their sixth-straight win.
They face another test next week against the Storm in Melbourne, while Souths host Penrith.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 - Newcastle Knights 20
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Halftime Score: South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 Newcastle Knights 12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Connor Watson
2 points - Mitchell Pearce
1 points - John Sutton
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (12)
Tries: James Roberts, Sam Burgess
Conversions: Dane Gagai (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Dane Gagai (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (20)
Tries: Hymel Hunt, Mitchell Barnett, Connor Watson
Conversions: Mason Lino (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Mason Lino (2/2)