The Newcastle Knights were hoping to secure a home fixture in week one of the finals, as they welcomed the St George Illawarra Dragons to contest the Alex McKinnon Trophy.
In the fifth minute, Chris Randall made an easy break from the half-way line after poor defence behind the ruck.
With just Dufty to beat, the hooker passed to his right to free Kayln Ponga who slid over to score.
A few minutes later, a high kick from Mason Lino was claimed by Gehamat Shibasaki who hit the ground and stretched over to score.
The Knights continued to pile on the pressure on the Dragons, and the away side managed to hold on for a while.
That was until just after the 20th minute though as Ponga attacked the line and then sent Aidan Guerra through the gap created for an easy score.
In the vert next set, Daniel Saifiti was the recipient of a short pass from Randall, and despite being wrapped up by three Dragons defenders, he kept his ball-carrying arm off the floor and placed the ball on the line.
Despite being 24-0 down, the Dragons began to build some pressure of their own.
Matt Dufty used his speed to get on the outside of Lino and Enari Tuala before popping the ball to Zac Lomax who showed his strength to bust and twist out of the tackle to dot down.
The Knights would have the last laugh before the break though.
An error from Cody Ramsey at the kick-off gifted Newcastle territory.
Pearce threw a flat pass and Enari Tuala broke through the line for another easy try.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 30-6 St George Illawarra Dragons
The second-half started with a chance for the Knights to extend their lead but Mitch Barnett was denied.
However, 12 minutes in, Randall pushed a pass to Jacob Saifiti this time, and just like his brother, crashed over with three Dragons clutching to his coattails.
With a little under an hour gone, Ramsey made a break down the Dragon’s right edge, speeding past Brian To’a. before passing back inside to Corey Norman, who managed to reach out behind him and gather the ball before running in to score.
The battle between Dufty and Ponga continued througout the second half and just before the 70th minute looked as though the St George full-back had scored.
However, after being unsighted by having the run around the upright, Dufty knocked the ball on following a nice kick from Norman.
With ten minutes to go, Ponga provided yet another try as he took the ball to the line once more before shipping a pass out to Tuala for his second of the night.
Five minutes later Ponga was outjumped by Lomax when competing for Norman’s high kick.
Lomax landed, span back to face the try-line and glided over for a second.
The rest of the game seem to fizzle out, as the Knights moved up into sixth.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 42-18 St George Illawarra Dragons
Ponga, To’a, Tuala, Hunt, Shibasaki, Lino, Pearce, Klemmer, Randall, D. Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Guerra, Barnett
Interchanges: Crossland, J. Saifiti, Ese’ese, Mata’utia
Tries: Ponga, Shibasaki, Guerra, D. Saifiti, Tuala (2), J. Saifiti
Goals: Lino (7/7)
St George Illawarra Dragons
Dufty, Pereira, Lomax, Williame, Ramsey, Norman, Hunt, Ellis, McInnes, Vaughan, Frizell, Sims, Ford
Interchanges: Kerr, Lawrie, Feagai, Fuimaono
Tries: Lomax (2), Ramsey
Goals: Lomax (3/3)
Referee: G. Atkins
Touch Judges: D. Munro, J. Stone
Video Referee: S. Chiddy
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)