Newcastle have made it two wins to start the year, piling on the points in an impressive 26-4 win in front of their home fans on Sunday afternoon against a error-riddled Wests Tigers.
Five-eighth Jake Clifford regathered his own kick to score just four minutes in and Tyson Frizell's excellent grab off an Adam Clune bomb made it 12-0 inside 10 minutes.
The only further points of the first half came via a penalty goal when Tyrone Peachey was sin-binned for repeated team infringements.
The Tigers weren't able to work their way into the match in the second half with Bradman Best crossing off a Clune pass shortly after Peachey's return, Clifford setting up Dom Young down a short side in the 57th minute and Dane Gagai producing a highlight reel put-down in the 64th.
Stefano Utoikamanu's try was overturned by the Bunker when it was realised he lost the ball in his attempted grounding, with ken Maumalo eventually getting his side on the board in the final five minutes.
Match: Knights v Wests Tigers
Round 2 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
The Knights made it two wins straight, covering for the loss of Kalyn Ponga in impressive fashion while the Wests Tigers looked out of ideas as the match wore on.
- Knights playmaker Jake Clifford continues to reap the benefit of a full pre-season and a tight partnership with Adam Clune, scoring a try in the fourth straight outing (including trials) in another composed performance.
- Winger Dom Young has also scored in back-to-back NRL games and looks a much improved player this year. His inside man Dane Gagai has helped immeasurably, with the Maroons stalwart again immense. Young was also placed on report for high contact.
Young finishes off smart play from Clifford
- The Tigers' first half in particular was full of coach-killing errors, with simple missed tackles, dropped balls and unnecessary penalties making it almost impossible to get into the contest.
- Late in that half, the Tigers lost Tyrone Peachey to a sin-bin for repeated infringements but other than the Jake Clifford penalty goal taken at the time, there was no further damage on the scoreboard while down a man.
- Lachlan Fitzgibbon had a strong first half but was taken from the field with a suspected MCL injury shortly before half time.
- Tigers five-eighth Jackson Hastings looked the most likely of the Tigers, making a line break that should have let to a try to Stefano Utoikamanu and helping set up the eventual try to Ken Maumalo. He has a nervous wait through for the charge sheet after being placed on report for a lifting tackle.
Gagai dives over in the corner
Play of the game
With the Knights already up 6-0 after eight minutes, Adam Clune's attacking bomb looked far too deep but captain Tyson Frizell raced through with a stunning fingertips grab to plant the ball just inside the dead ball line.
Frizell great grab and touchdown
What they said
"I think we had about seven players this week that didn't participate in one training run, not even captain's run. They just turned up and played today. We've worked really hard on our culture and that's as good as next man mentality that I've seen from the boys, to defend the way they did." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien.
"The younger guys who have stepped in have done a really good job. This time last year if that happened we'd probably be not as confident going into a game with a couple of guys missing. Two games in, we're really happy with the way we defended today and hopefully we can build from that. Defence wins games and every team is working on that." - Knights back-rower Tyson Frizell.
NRL Press Conference: Knights v Wests Tigers - Round 2, 2022
"It was disappointing, the defence side of things was lacking at the start and dripped into our game. That rolled into poor completions and putting pressure on yourself. We didn't sort that out on the run. We've got to work through that." - Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire.
"It is frustrating, last week we stated a blueprint of how we wanted to play [this season] and I guess it was just lack of preparation for us this week and we need to be better in that area, especially us as leaders, we need to drive that as well." - Wests Tigers co-captain Ken Maumalo.
The Knights will be hopeful of having skipper Kalyn Ponga back for next Saturday's trip out to Bathurst to play premiers Penrith as they hunt a 3-0 start to the year.
The Tigers host the Warriors at Campbelltown in the early Friday game. They looked out of answers against the Knights and need to find something in a match that will see the loser fall to a 0-3 start to the year.