Mitchell Pearce has wasted no time becoming the hero of Newcastle, kicking a field goal in extra time to give the Knights a thrilling 19-18 win over the Manly Sea Eagles.
After he and his rival Daly Cherry-Evans traded missed shots in golden point, Pearce calmly slotted the match-winning one-pointer deep in extra time to seal a dream debut for his new club
The man that the red and blue army had turned out to see wasted little time having an impact.
Off the back of an early penalty, the Knights shifted the ball through a slick back-line move resulting in Pearce setting up new fullback recruit Kalyn Ponga, who crashed his way through some poor Manly goal-line defence.
Ponga converted his own try from out wide and the Knights skipped out to a 6-0 lead, but the Sea Eagles did not remain behind for long.
Match: Knights v Sea Eagles
Round 1 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
The ball was spread beautifully through the back-line for big Jorge Taufua to crash over in the corner.
On the back of mounting penalties, the Sea Eagles were unlucky not score to again when centre Brian Kelly almost grounded a Cherry-Evans grubber kick, but the ball beat him over the line.
After winning the battle for the number nine jersey, Knights rake Slade Griffin made the most of good field position, spinning out of a tackle from dummy half to score his first try for his new club, giving the hosts a 12-6 lead six minutes from the break.
But Manly were not going away. Back to back penalties on the Knights goal-line led to interchange player Shaun Lane crashing over next to the posts, sending both teams to the sheds locked at 12 apiece.
It was an even start to the second half until the Sea Eagles were given a spark from a Tom Trbojevic run and poor discipline from Newcastle.
Manly winger Akuila Uate should have given his side the lead but a great cover tackle from Ponga forced the ball free.
Manly kept possession through a penalty and the repeat sets eventually took a toll on the defence with Kelly crossing in the corner.
Momentum was with the visitors on the back of a constant string of penalties.
In the 59th minute a penalty for a high tackle from Knights five-eighth Connor Watson on his opposite number Lachlan Croker allowed the Sea Eagles another sniff, but Taufua was held up across the line.
That missed opportunity appeared to prove costly, as moments later at the other end of the field Lachlan Fitzgibbon charged over on the last tackle to give his side the lead again.
Then Knights lock Mitchell Barnett missed a golden chance to extend the margin with some strong defence holding him up over the line.
With just eight minutes remaining, the Sea Eagles were penalised for back chat.
Knights winger Nathan Ross looked certain to score in the corner but Cherry-Evans pushed him into touch.
With the Knights leading 18-16, the 23,516 strong crowd were willing their team to hang on, but the game was far from sealed with Cherry-Evans equalising with a late penalty goal.