Knights come back to beat Cowboys
Newcastle are the NRL's official comeback kings after starting the season with back-to-back come-from-behind wins, beating the Cowboys 16-14 in Townsville on Saturday night.
A 12-0 second half saw the visitors home after the Cowboys had looked in control, up 14-0 half an hour into the match.
The NRL almost had its first golden point game of 2015 when Gavin Cooper received a penalty in the ruck, but Kyle Feldt's 57-metre penalty goal attempt after the siren had the legs but sailed right.
Newcastle's resurgence started with a trick shot two minutes from half-time when Jarrod Mullen put boot to ball off a backfield scrum, leaving Akuila Uate one-on-one with Johnathan Thurston.
Uate got a good bounce and retained possession, and a shift left on the next play exposed a large overlap to have Joey Leilua over the line.
Going into half-time at 14-4, the next score took over 20 minutes to come as the home side threw away several half-chances.
Uate was then back in the mix, benefitting from some ad-lib football to score in the 62nd minute, before Leilua was in again 10 minutes later when Robert Lui let the Samoan centre stroll through the line to take the lead less than 10 minutes from fulltime.
Despite the 12-0 second half, Cowboys coach Paul Green was focused solely on the game's physical nature and the attention paid to star playmaker Johnathan Thurston.
"I think it's well known they (Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith) are good at it," Green said.
"We've got to be clear on... I'm just going to bite my tongue here. I don't have a spare 10 grand.
"I'm not sure what I can say without getting fined tonight."
The Cowboys' woes up the middle in Round 1 appeared to continue early in the contest, with Newcastle rolling up the field and taking just three minutes to pepper the home side's line.
Uate put his foot into touch on a quick spread right, but that just made the man sporting a Mr T Mohawk even hungrier, as he used the full breadth of the field on the way to more easy metres.
After dominating possession and field position over the first 10 minutes, Newcastle's Round 1 hero Dane Gagai cost the visitors momentum with an ill-disciplined palm to the face of Kane Linnett in retaliation to a sling tackle.
The ensuing penalty was all the Cowboys needed as they immediately converted the territory into points through a deft Thurston grubber to Ethan Lowe.
But minutes later, the Cowboys' faithful had hearts in their mouths for all the wrong reasons.
A seemingly innocuous Kade Snowden wrestling tackle sent winger Justin O'Neill's head into the turf, leaving the new recruit seemingly concussed and off on a medicab.
The Cowboys snapped straight into action after the 15-minute delay when Thurston put Morgan through a hole in the backfield, before being taken out by Beau Scott who was reported on the play.
Matt Scott got his first try of the season after the front rower expertly picked up the crumbs from a towering Robert Lui bomb, all while Thurston was down in the backfield.
The Cowboys looked comfortable with a 14-0 lead following Leilua's lazy swinging arm on Morgan in front of the sticks, but playing the first half with an intensity level unseen last week, the Cowboys capitulated with simple errors as the Knights raised the bar.
"We talked about 'more will than skill' last week and it wasn't much different this week," Knights coach Rick Stone said.
"I think we had about 47 per cent of the ball overall and they're a tough team to defend, the Cowboys.
"We got ourselves in a bit of trouble there in the first half; they had plenty of field position. I thought our defence, our goal-line defence in particular, during that period was impressive."
Beau Scott was put on report in the 45th minute for a headslam on Johnathan Thurston, while Thurston himself was put on report for a high shot on Uate in the 48th minute.
Newcastle Knights 16 (Joey Leilua 2, Uate tries; Kurt Gidley 2 goals) defeated North Queensland Cowboys 14 (Ethan Lowe, Matt Scott tries; Johnathan Thurston 2 goals, 1 penalty goal) Crowd: 13,006.
Reports: Beau Scott (Knights), Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)