It was a "heart-breaking" win to say the least for Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien with star forward Tyson Frizell ruled out of Origin after limping off injured late in Sunday's 18-10 triumph over Manly.
Considered a near certainty before the Blues side was named on Sunday night, Frizell was considered no chance of being fit for the June 9 series opener after limping off four minutes from full-time when his ankle was caught underneath him in a tackle.
The match review committee will also take a look at an incident involving Frizell on Monday in which he caught Martin Taupau with a high shot midway through the second half.
"He's obviously with the physios at the moment; four minutes to go is a bit heart-breaking to see him roll that ankle," O'Brien said immediately after the game.
David Klemmer was also sin-binned and placed on report in the final seconds but in-game discipline was a far bigger issue for the Sea Eagles, with two sin-bins and five reports in the match.
Match: Knights v Sea Eagles
Round 12 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Stand-in five-eighth Tevita Funa will have a nervous wait for the charge sheet after finding himself on report twice for a high shot and a crusher while Sean Keppie was also placed on report for a dangerous tackle, Lachlan Croker for a crusher and Taupau a high tackle.
Keppie and Taupau both spent 10 minutes off the field for their challenges.
Both sides lost a five-eighth before the match with Manly's Josh Schuster and Newcastle's Kurt Mann both ruled out with minor injuries bringing Funa into Manly's starting side and forcing Connor Watson to shift from the pack to the halves for the Knights.
Match Highlights: Knights v Sea Eagles
Newcastle's win was built on grit with some big names missing; their maligned back three had a much-improved effort with Tex Hoy very safe at the back and Starford To'a having one of his best games on the wing and young Phoenix Crossland had a fine game in the halves.
O'Brien was pleased with the grit shown and hopes it becomes more of a feature for the squad moving forward.
"There was lots to like about it - some stuff we want to improve on but the grit, where we turned the ball over, young Phoenix kicked so well for us," O'Brien said.
"We didn't heap pressure on ourselves. Early in the game we were a little impatient in good-ball, I think we were none from four sets down there early on but I thought other than that we started well, at least we were turning the ball over at their end.
"There were some individuals and some young men that really stood up. Inexperience in terms of the amount of games but they showed a lot of character and worked really hard tonight so I'm really proud of them."
Incoming halfback Jake Clifford could play as early as next week according to O'Brien.
"He'd be a chance, he's in there with his teammates now," O'Brien said.
"Remarkable job what he went through, it would have been emotional for him, he played really well for the Cowboys I thought and departed on the right note. He's in there getting to know his teammates, we've got a couple of sessions this week and see how we go from there."
For Manly the third Trbojevic brother, Ben, didn't get a dream debut after being kept on the bench for all but the final 90 seconds as Des Hasler couldn't get him into the contest.
He then copped a high shot from David Klemmer on the second-last play of the game and was taken straight from the field. Klemmer was placed on report and sent to the sin bin.
Until their two tries late in the first half, the Knights had been the better side everywhere but the scoreboard.
Knights make the most of the extra man
They held 58 per cent of the first-half ball, mounted plenty of pressure against the Sea Eagles try line and spent most of their time in their opponents' half but came up with multiple errors on the attack to bring their good work undone.
Manly scored twice against the run of play with Brad Parker crossing before noted speedster Jason Saab running 80m after picking up a loose ball for the second.
Funa was lucky not to be sin binned in the 30th minute for a high challenge on To'a as he leapt for a ball but found himself on report for both that tackle and a crusher tackle later in the half on the same player.
In between those incidents, Sean Keppie was sin binned for a late, high tackle on Crossland after he kicked, allowing To'a to cross against a 12-man line in the right corner.
It became two tries against a reduced line-up on the stroke of halftime when a clever flat pass at the line from Connor Watson send Sauaso Sue over for a 12-10 lead at the break.
The Knights continued to have the better of field position in second half but weren't able to make it count.
As the scoreless minutes ticked past the tension rose; Taupau was sin-binned in the 59th minute but Manly were able to navigate those 10 minutes without damage.
Daniel Saifiti locks in the win for Newcastle
The Knights lost Hoy to an HIA for the final 10 minutes forcing Watson to fullback then Fitzgibbon to an HIA three minutes later.
The Sea Eagles were operating one down on the bench for the second half since Zac Saddler's head clash and possible facial fracture straight after half-time.
The game started to open up late with Manly making several breaks and half breaks but the Knights clung on to their two-point lead until Origin-bound prop Daniel Saifiti crashed over under the posts to seal the win with less than two minutes remaining.