Knights forward Tim Glasby.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown wonders what Paul Gallen and the Sharks think of the Knights now.

The new-look Newcastle pack, spear-headed by NSW and Australian prop David Klemmer, won a points decision against the hard-nosed Sharks forwards at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.

It was Newcastle's first victory over Cronulla since 2014 and ended an eight-game losing streak against the Sharks.

Cronulla won 48-10 and 38-12 in the two games last year, and 62-0 and 36-4 in 2016, which explains why Brown was so pleased with their effort on Friday night.

"Gal's made some comments, and he was probably saying what a lot of good, hardened forwards have probably thought of us ...," Brown explained.

"Gal's not frightened to say what he thinks, but I'd be more interested to see what Gal thinks of us now … It would be interesting to see if he thinks we're an improved footy side."

When pushed by the Sharks, Klemmer and fellow recruits Tim Glasby and James Gavet pushed back, refusing to concede the middle third of the field.

The Sharks scrambled well and defended their line time and again but could not crack the Knights on the advantage line.

"To only have a penalty try scored against us against the Sharks is a big plus for our club, from where we've been," Brown said.

"They've given it to us in the middle part of the field. They've got good, experienced players there and they've just physically been better than us, but tonight, I would think their impression of us would be a little bit different than what it used to be, after tonight."

It would be interesting to see if he thinks we're an improved footy side

Nathan Brown's response to Paul Gallen

Former Sharks winger Edrick Lee made the match-winning play in the 75th minute, anticipating a pass from Chad Townsend, picking it off, and returning it 85 metres to score under the posts and break an 8-8 deadlock.

Three minutes earlier, Lee conceded a penalty try when he tackled Sione Katoa, who was chasing Shaun Johnson's grubber kick into Newcastle's in-goal.

Lee's intercept try was a fitting reward after his ball-and-all tackles on Sharks danger man Josh Dugan shut down at least three attacking raids in the first half.

"We got it from a defensive play. Edrick had an outstanding night on defence, and his reward was what he got,” Brown said.

"He was outstanding. I think Edrick is probably a better player than what he thinks, to be honest with you."

Knights back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
Knights back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

Lee said he saw the Sharks run the same play in the first half, and made the right decision when he saw Andrew Fifita make an angled run to link with Townsend.

"I didn't know the move until I replayed it in my head at half-time, and I recognised the shape and recognised the personnel and who started it, with Andrew running that shape," Lee explained.

"So I knew the shape and managed to back myself and it is what it is.

"It was unbelievable. Once I snagged the intercept and managed to run 20, I heard the crowd and the crowd took over and I had a big smile on my face."

Knights prop David Klemmer.
Knights prop David Klemmer. ©Paul Barkley/NRL Photos

Brown was encouraged to see his team win against a finals-calibre side without playmakers Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga dominating proceedings.

"If we'd come here tonight and said that we were going to win and 'Pearcey' and Kalyn weren't going to be in the best three or four players, I think everyone would have laughed at us," Brown said.

"That's the most pleasing thing, because the offence bit, that will happen over time, but the courage and commitment to the defence and to hang in there against a good footy side who will probably out-grit nearly anyone, that’s the pleasing thing."

The Knights will be without bench prop Daniel Saifiti against Penrith in round two.

Saifiti suffered a knee injury in the 47th minute against Cronulla and will have scans this weekend to determine the extent of the damage but Brown said he was resigned to spending some time on the sidelines.