Kalyn Ponga returned from suspension to spearhead Newcastle to a stunning 34-18 upset of Canberra that underlined the 22-year-old superstar's leadership credentials.
Ponga, who missed last weekend’s brave 14-14 draw with Penrith, scored a try, was instrumental in three others and also saved one in a five-star performance cut short by a HIA six minutes before full-time.
However, by then the job was done as Ponga, rookie centre Bradman Best and winger Edrick Lee formed a potent left-edge attack that the Raiders struggled to contain.
Best and Lee scored two tries each, while Ponga crossed for one of his own in the 19th minute and ran for 275 metres.
However, for new Knights coach Adam O''Brien, Ponga's influence on the win goes deeper than his on-field performance.
Match: Raiders v Knights
Round 4 -
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney
"Having KP back obviously adds a little bit of spark there that we can see in the game, with the halves that are running footy at the moment," O'Brien said.
"But for me it is what he gives us at our meetings during the week and how direct he is with feedback.
"For a guy that is not completely passionate all week about footy he knows a lot about it and he is pretty good at coaching it with everyone and letting them know what he expects from them.
"That is the thing that has impressed me. His leadership qualities have been outstanding and have only improved since I met him, from the first day to now he is just getting better and better at it.
"The thing I have really enjoyed about having him back this week is his directness in meetings about what is acceptable and what is required. He is an extension of the coaching staff."
O'Brien couldn't have hoped for a better start to the match than Best scoring just 109 seconds after the kick-off after Ponga chimed into the backline following a scrum win.
Ponga converted to give Newcastle an early 6-0 lead and Raiders coach Ricky Stuart would have gained a further insight into what lay ahead for his side when five-eighth Jack Wighton kicked out on the full a few minutes later and centre Jarrod Croker passed over the sideline.
Croker appeared set to score after racing clear of the defence but a desperate Ponga ankle tap slowed him and an attempted a flick pass by the Canberra captain to unmarked winger Nick Cotric went into touch.
Having saved a try in the 11th minute, Ponga then scored one eight minutes later after slicing between Wighton and Croker.
Wighton redeemed himself three minutes later when he flew AFL-style for a high George Williams bomb on the Newcastle line to score.
Lethal left edge provides again for Newcastle
Sadly for Wighton that pieced of magic was followed by the NSW Origin representative being responsible for a penalty try that enabled the Knights to lead 16-6 at halftime.
Referee Ashley Klein awarded the penalty try after Wighton tackled Newcastle centre Enari Tuala as he was about to collect a Best kick in the in-goal.
The Knights started the second half as they had the first when Pearce and Ponga combined to put Lee over in the 44th minute and he scored again five minutes later after Ponga created an overlap with a cut-out pass to Best to give the Knights a 28-6 lead.
However, the Raiders refused to give up and Cotric got them back into the game when he outleapt Lee to catch a crossfield kick by Williams in the 53rd minute.
Queensland prop Josh Papalii then beat four defenders with a charging 20 metre run to score in the 58th minute and Croker's conversion reduced the deficit to just 10 points with a quarter of the match remaining.
Best makes it look easy from the scrum
However, the Raiders were unable to reel in Newcastle's lead and Best sealed the win when he toed ahead a ball shaken loose by a David Klemmer hit on Williams to score in the final minute.
There was a scuffle involving several players after Best's final four-pointer with Knights international David Klemmer and Canberra forward Joseph Tapine heavily involved.
As well as losing Ponga to a HIA inside the final 10 minutes, Newcastle five-eighth Kurt Mann suffered an ankle injury which will be monitored by the club in the coming days.
Cotric leaps above Lee to score