Dragons players celebrate during their narrow win over the Knights.

A Gareth Widdop penalty goal in the final 20 seconds has seen the Dragons record a heartbreaking 28-26 win over the Newcastle Knights.

 

With the game destined to head into golden point, a contentious penalty blown by referee Henry Perenara on retiring skipper Jeremy Smith allowed Widdop to ice the penalty goal from 40 metres out. 

The loss sees the Knights end their year with an 18-game losing run they'll have to take into the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season – the worse first grade season from a club since the 1993 Gold Coast Seagulls. 

The Knights did manage to come home with a wet sail in the second half however after being down 22-10 at half-time.

Knights centre Dane Gagai's try two minutes into the second half was followed by Peter Mata'utia getting handle of a lofty Trent Hodkinson grubber five minutes later. 

The Dragons extended their then slim lead to six when winger Jason Nightingale crossed for his second try of the game thanks to magic hands from Luciano Leilua. 

But scores would be levelled at 26-all when Knights back-rower Mitch Barnett powered his way past Leilua and Josh Dugan to score and Hodkinson nailed the conversion. 

The Knights will lament the fact they failed to get the ball to field goal specialist Hodkinson in the final nine minutes – a poor Mullen effort helping the Dragons to good field territory for Widdop's eventual match-winner. 

Newcastle also won't be pleased with their efforts in a period of the first half, letting a 10-0 lead slip after tries to Nathan Ross and Jacob Saifiti in the opening 11 minutes. 

The remainder of the first half was all St George Illawarra from there who scored four tries in 16 minutes.

Nightingale made it look easy in the 16th minute when he walked over in the corner thanks to Dugan's first try assist of the season.

Back-rower Joel Thompson's slicing run in the 24th minute, where he stood up Knights fullback Jake Mamo, completed a 50-metre try-scoring effort. 

Thompson made it a brace of tries when he pushed past Mamo with ease four minutes later. 

Jake Marketo completed the Dragons' first-half blitz when he finished off a half-field effort with a clean 30 metre run to the try-line to help set up the Red V's eventual victory. 

St George Illawarra Dragons 28 (Joel Thompson 2, Jason Nightingale 2, Jake Marketo tries; Gareth Widdop 4 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 26 (Nathan Ross, Jacob Saifiti, Dane Gagai, Peter Mata'utia, Mitch Barnett tries; Trent Hodkinson 3 goals) at UOW Jubilee Oval.  Crowd: 8,726. Half-time: Dragons 22-10.