The Newcastle Knights looked to keep themselves in the top-four conversation as they faced a North Queensland Cowboys looking to move away from the wooden-spoon battle.
The Knights were the stronger starters between the two sides but the Cowboys were holding firm in defence.
That was until the 15th minute when Mitchell Pearce played the ball out the back to Kalyn Ponga who identified Hymel Hunt on the outside in open space who walked over for the opening score after a little fumble.
Just before the 20-minute mark, Blake Green was hammered in a tackle by Jordan McLean and had to leave the field, this meant Kurt Mann moved to half-back with Phoenix Crossland coming on a hooker.
North Queensland were defending well, but it was the mistakes in attack gifting the ball back to Newcastle.
A kick out on the full and a forward pass from Michael Morgan were just two of the latest to allow Ponga and Pearce to lead the charge.
In the 25th minute, Morgan’s fifth tackle kick looked like it would bring about a try for the Cowboys but Justin O’Neill couldn’t gather the bouncing ball.
Half an hour into the game, Coen Hess was penalised for a hand in the ruck, this allowed Ponga to make up for his missed conversion and made it 6-0 from the boot.
Toward the end of the half, the Knights were penalised for multiple penalties, with Mitchell Pearce sent to the sin-bin for tackling Coen Hess before getting bake onside from a quick-tap inside.
This allowed Kyle Feldt to add two points from the boot and narrow the gap but he missed wide and the Knights led 6-0 at the break.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 6-0 North Queensland Cowboys
Despite being a man down, the Knights held firm for the opening few minutes of the half.
Ponga then made a break down the right-wing up to the Cowboys ten-metre line.
Mitchell Dunn was then penalised for being offside and sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.
Ponga looked to make it 8-0 from the boot but hooked his kick wide.
The Knights were back in control following the yellow card to Dunn, but the Cowboys defence was still strong.
That was until the 55th minute when Herman Ese’ese crashed over the tackle of Scott Drinkwater to score.
However, Josh King was penalised for obstruction and it remained 6-0.
Both teams returned to 13 players on the field just before the hour mark but the Cowboys lost Jason Taumalolo to a serious-looking knee injury as he hobbled down the tunnel.
The Knights looked to extend their lead once again as they attacked the left edge.
Unfortunately, Fitzgibbon lost control of the ball as he stretched over the line.
Aiden Guerra was the next to get a chance for the Knights, but he was held up just to the side of the posts.
It wasn’t too much of a concern for the Knights as they won a penalty for Ben Hampton being offside and this time Ponga did convert the penalty.
With ten minutes to go, the Knights still led by eight, but the game was far from won.
Time began to tick by for the Cowboys, as they Knights camped deep in their half once again and finally picked up the second try of the night.
With two minutes to go, Pearce shifted the ball out to Ponga, who straightened up to bring Kyle Feldt forward.
This allowed the full-back to whip a pass out to Enari Tuala who dived over in the corner and secure the two-points.
The Cowboys had the ball in hand in the final seconds but Morgan was wrapped up by Pearce and Newcastle moved a point behind the top-four.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 12-0 North Queensland Cowboys
Ponga, To’a, Tuala, Shibasaki, Hunt, Green, Pearce, Klemmer, Mann, J. Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Guerra, Barnett
Interchanges: Crossland, Ese’ese, King, Saulo
Tries: Hunt, Tuala
Goals: Ponga (2/5)
North Queensland Cowboys
Drinkwater, Feldt, Opacic, O’Neill, Tabuai-Fidow, Hampton, Morgan, McGuire, Cotter, McLean, Dunn, Hess, Taumalolo
Interchanges: Asiata, Molo, Jensen, Granville
Goals: Feldt (0/1)
Referee: A. Gee
Touch Judges: B. Sharpe, D. Munro
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)