Drought is over: Knights stun Dragons
NEWCASTLE have ended an eight-match losing streak to upset St George Illawarra 21-14 at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
With the game in the balance at 14-all with eight minutes to go, a Jacob Saifiti try put the home side ahead, with experienced halfback Trent Hodkinson putting the icing on the cake with a 79th-minute field goal to send a 15,031-strong crowd into raptures.
It was a case of ninth time lucky for the Knights, who had lost all previous eight games this year when leading at halftime - the most of any team in the NRL era.
The loss is a huge blow to the Red V who are teetering on the edge of the top eight with the likes of Penrith and Canberra breathing down their neck.
Adding to the Dragons' frustrations, they lost back-rower Tyson Frizell to an ankle injury in the final minutes of the game.
Seven errors in the first half put the Dragons under immense pressure.
When a Josh McCrone grubber gifted the Knights a seven-tackle set, they marched down field with a kick and regather from Brock Lamb putting the Novocastrians ahead.
Minutes later they had their second on the back of another Dragons error when a Lamb bomb was caught superbly by Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
The Dragons made use of their own seven-tackle set midway through the first half when they forced a dropout, and in the ensuing set, crossed the white stripe when Joel Thompson put Paul Vaughan over for his sixth try of the season.
Two controversial bunker calls cost the Dragons towards the end of the first half.
Tim Lafai was denied after Nightingale was ruled to have knocked on in the contest for a bomb, before a 90-metre effort from Nene Macdonald was called back after Frizell was ruled to have interfered in the lead-up.
But it was third time lucky for the Red V who struck on halftime when fullback-turned-centre Josh Dugan ran across field and popped a ball to former Knight Tariq Sims who bulldozed his way over.
The first points of the second half came by way of a Gareth Widdop penalty goal in the 60th minute to level the scores at 14-all.