A late try from Hymel Hunt has propelled the Newcastle Knights to a 20-16 victory over the New Zealand Warriors in Gosford.

Newcastle five-eighth Kurt Mann succumbed to a knee injury before kickoff and was replaced in the halves by Phoenix Crossland.

Despite leading the penalty count early, Newcastle were dominated in the possession stakes through the first twenty minutes.

Against the odds, the Knights were the first to score as Jayden Brailey took advantage of a quick play-the-ball from new recruit Tyson Frizell to scoot to the line.

Not to be outdone by his opposite number, Wayde Egan looked to have crossed thirteen minutes later but was denied by the bunker due to a knock on.

Undeterred, the Warriors scored on the next set as Tohu Harris sent Ben Murdoch-Masila over for his first try since returning from the Super League.

Newcastle regained the lead through Mitchell Barnett, who converted a penalty goal after Jazz Tevaga was placed on report for striking Bradman Best with his knee.

The Knights would hold onto their 8-6 advantage into the break.

Both sides traded tries coming out of halftime, with Hymel Hunt taking advantage of a poor defensive read from David Fusitu’a before Roger Tuivasa-Sheck sent Adam Pompey over the line.

The Warriors then took the lead as they stripped the Newcastle defence on a scintillating right-to-left shift before Ken Maumalo strolled over untouched.

Trailing by two with under five minutes on the clock, the Knights turned to their star centre Bradman Best.

Best received the ball thirty-five metres from the line before beating two Warriors defenders and releasing an offload to Hymel Hunt while falling to the ground.

Hitting the ball at pace, Hunt was able to brush past the diving effort of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to score the match-winner.

Post match, Knights coach Adam O’Brien expressed his pride in his side’s defensive resilience up against a lopsided possession count.

“We showed a lot of grit… we knew it wasn’t about being ultra-fancy or expansive, it was just about being tough and that’s what they gave us,” O’Brien stated

At the Warriors, Nathan Brown wasn’t overly dissatisfied with his side’s performance, stating that his side’s slow start cost them at the back end of the match.

“They were just keener to the punch than we were… I thought we did well to work our way back and get back in front, but we weren’t quite good enough to get the job done,” Brown said.

The Knights will be looking to extend their winning start to the season next Sunday against the Tigers at home, while the Warriors will travel south to face the Raiders at GIO Stadium.

NRL News Player of the Game:

3 Points – Bradman Best – Two try assists and one line break. The Knights attack looked lethargic at times, but Best was dynamic. He’s a genuine match winner and showed it tonight.

2 Points – Jayden Brailey – One try and 53 tackles. Got out of dummy half to score the first of the match, provided great service throughout the night and was solid in defence.

1 Point – Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – Two try assists and 21 hit ups. Typically strong performance at the back that had his team in a winning position with five minutes to play.

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