Knights slay Dragons on Old Boys' Day

Newcastle were celebrating Old Boys' Day in their final game of the season, and the Knights finished off their season in smashing fashion with an emphatic 40-10 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons to make it eight wins from the final 11 games of the season.

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With the Novocastrians celebrating their annual day, Red V centre Josh Dugan and Newcastle halfback Tyrone Roberts thought they would do their part to kick it old school with a fight which saw both men sin-binned midway through the first half – the first instance of it happening in club football since the "no punch" rule came in last year.

Continuing the 'Old Boys' theme, club legend Timana Tahu earned himself two tries, meaning he finished his career in the blue and red with 93 tries for the club.

The win for the home side also broke a nine-game, 10-year hoodoo – the red and whites hadn't lost in the Hunter since 2004.

In a memorable day for others, Newcastle centre Joey Leilua kicked off the scoring proceedings in the fifth minute in his 100th appearance in the NRL. The try was initiated by a barnstorming run from lock Adam Cuthbertson, and an offload on the next play from back-rower Robbie Rochow allowed the centre to score next to the uprights for his 11th try of the year.

Unfortunately for Leilua, his afternoon was ended soon after when he was stretchered off the field with concussion.

In a day for massive runs from departing forwards, Newcastle prop Willie Mason was the next cab off the rank when his huge charge left the enraptured crowd chanting "Willie". Two tackles later, five-eighth Jarrod Mullen was able to force his way over through Dragons defenders Gareth Widdop and Joel Thompson to score in the 14th minute.

Leilua's replacement out in the centres, 33-year-old veteran Tahu, scored two minutes later with only his second touch of the football with the Dragons defence struggling to get back out wide, before winding back the clock with a celebratory slam dunk over the cross bar.

With the game settling in for a 12-on-12 affair, the Red V scored their first points of the afternoon when Dragons' captain Brett Morris scored out wide after capitalising on a backline movement in the 30th minute to get his side back into the game.

Yet it didn't hinder Newcastle when they capped off a dominant first half through winger Sione Mata'utia, who crossed in the 38th minute to make it a 24-4 halftime scoreline.

The Knights maintained their momentum after halftime when a huge run from centre Dane Gagai allowed Tahu to score his second try of the afternoon in the 43rd minute.

A Jarrod Mullen kick in the 50th minute saw his teammates scramble for the bouncing ball. Morris looked to have the ball covered, but with both his and Newcastle winger Chanel Mata'utia having air-swings with the hands, Morris's knee bounced off the ball which remained in the in-goal for Gagai to clean up the scraps and claim an unusual try – milliseconds before teammate Beau Scott was able to.

Newcastle put the final nail in the coffin in the 67th minute when winger Sione Mata'utia crossed for his second of the afternoon thanks to double cut-out pass from Roberts to stretch the club's lead to an untouchable 40-4 to finish the season off in style.

Dragons hooker Kyle Stanley scored a consolation in the 77th minute to bring it back to a 30-point margin but by then it was a case of too little too late for the Red V.

Newcastle Knights 40 (Tahu 2, S. Mata'utia 2, Leilua, Mullen, Gagai Tries; Gidley 6 Goals) defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 10 (Morris, Stanley Tries; Widdop Goal) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 20,424.