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He ended up making the biggest play of the game.

In a dream debut for his new club against his old one, Edrick Lee intercepted Chad Townsend's pass in the 75th minute and ran 85 metres to score the try that gave Newcastle a 14-8 victory over Cronulla at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.

But the 26-year-old former Indigenous All Stars representative was just as pleased with all the little plays he made against his former team-mates after fumbling a Mitchell Pearce pass and squandering a chance to score in the ninth minute.

It was a tough pass for a 196cm winger to have to bend down and try to scoop up but he wanted to make amends, and did so with a relentless defensive performance against Sharks centre Josh Dugan.

On three occasions in the first half, as the Sharks launched raids down their right edge, Lee raced in from his wing and shut down the movement with ball-and-all tackles.

The Knights obviously did their homework after Cronulla had success with similar plays in their 30-6 pre-season trial victory over Newcastle at Maitland two weeks earlier.

Knights winger Edrick Lee tackles Cronulla's Josh Dugan.
Knights winger Edrick Lee tackles Cronulla's Josh Dugan. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

"It was one of those things in footy but if something happens, you've got to move on straight away," Lee said post-game.

"I'm lucky that that wasn't the decision of the game and it was good to get the win in the end."

Lee said making the right reads on Dugan could be attributed to the work he had done with new left-edge partners Hymel Hunt and Kalyn Ponga during pre-season training.

Knights coach Nathan Brown described Lee, who is one game into a three-year deal with Newcastle after spending the past two seasons at the Sharks and the previous five with the Raiders, "is probably a better player than what he thinks".

"I'm a new player in a new town at a new club so I'm just trying to soak it up, put my best foot forward, control what I can control and make sure I put in a good performance week in, week out," Lee said.

"It's humbling to hear that from the coach … but I must be doing something right with my prep and how I'm handling myself at training and leading into games."

Lee was also responsible for the tackle on Cronulla winger Sione Katoa that led to a penalty try in the 72nd minute, allowing the Sharks to level the scores at 8-8.

But as he did earlier in the game, rather than dwell on that outcome, he focused on the next play and three minutes later anticipated Townsend's pass and picked it off to score the match-winner.

"There's key moments in a game where something happens, and it's more about how you react and more about your mindset," he said.

"You can't get too caught up in the moment of what happened and you've got to focus on your next job and what you can do for the team.

Knights winger Edrick Lee.
Knights winger Edrick Lee. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

"That was pretty much my first thought, just to move on from it, fall back into our defensive systems and attacking systems and really work as a team."

As much as he enjoyed scoring such a spectacular try at such a critical time against his old club, Lee was more pleased to celebrate it with his new team-mates in front of his new home crowd.

"I just want to be a team player and do what's best for the team and do my role within the team," he said.

"We've already got a couple of stars in the team, and if the stars can't perform, we need everyone else to pick up that slack.

"We've just got to keep working as a team and keep striving for the same goal and that's to keep winning games and making sure we're playing in the finals at the end of the season."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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