It is never easy playing twice in four days – unprecedented for rugby league in the modern era – but the Newcastle Knights just held on against the Brisbane Broncos.

As it stands, the win keeps the Knights in the top eight, as wins are more crucial than ever in the current logjam.

The Knights started the stronger of the two sides and came out firing, with numerous sets on the Broncos line.

The Broncos would not crack, though, defending a huge number of sets on their line to show a renewed defensive resolve.

Their defence gave them the confidence to attack and it was Tesi Niu who opened the scoring, the Broncos fullback showing surprising strength to power over.

The lead was short-lived, though, as Jake Clifford bamboozled everyone off a scrum with a dummy and a feint, before gliding through a gap to score.

Niu then turned provider when he was able to draw in Knights defenders to find Corey Oates out wide.

The Broncos had a chance to head into the break with the lead but veteran Knights half Mitch Pearce had other ideas.

Cutting back inside with a smart left foot step, Pearce evaded Broncos defenders and went over to score.

The Knights showed some attacking poise in the second half with two quick tries.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon was the first to pounce when he was quickest to react to a Kalyn Ponga grubber.

Mitch Barnett then got himself on the scoresheet when he barged over to give the Knights a handy lead.

The Knights lethal left edge then combined when Ponga and Bradman Best combined for Enari Tuala to score.

Not to be outdone, however, the Broncos showed the resolve that saw them push the Penrith Panthers for the entire eighty.

Youngster Xavier Willison scored in his second game after a tap-back from a team-mate ended up in his lap.

Herbie Farnworth then put on the afterburners to blitz the Knights defence close to the line to make things tense.

That was all she wrote, though, as the Knights held on for a key win in their finals aspirations.

Knights coach Adam O’Brien praised his side’s mental resilience as they look to get all hands on deck over the next few weeks.

“They found a way to get themselves not only physically right over the last couple of days but also mentally to go out and compete,” O’Brien said.

“I thought that was our biggest asset tonight.

“It wasn’t clinical, it looked like we hadn’t trained and we hadn’t… especially in the first half it looked like we had just met each other at times.

“We’ve only played one game [against the Cowboys in round 16]  with our full spine. Jayden Brailey wasn’t there tonight.”

Despite the loss, Broncos coach Kevin Walters can see progression in the side.

“There is lots of fight in that side, and great evidence of it there tonight,” Walters said.

“We lost, which no one’s happy with, but some more pleasing signs on what we’re building here at the Broncos.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Mitch Pearce (NEW)

2. Tesi Niu (BRI)

1. Herbie Farnworth (BRI)

Brisbane Broncos utility back Tesi Niu

By ricky

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