A dominant performance from the Newcastle Knights has seen them progress into week two of the semi-finals after a 40-18 victory over the North Sydney Bears.
Brendan Elliott was a strike weapon for the Knights with two tries, while halfback Will Pearsall and hooker Tom Starling beautifully steered the ship that kept their side alive in the 2017 season.
The Bears came into the match heavily depleted thanks to a large number of South Sydney Rabbitohs players missing in action on Friday night, while lock of the year Cheyne Whitelaw picked up an untimely injury during the week, which forced him out of the contest.
A Pearsall bomb wasn’t judged properly by Eli Levido, which caused a dropout, before the crafty halfback put his lock Bradie Smith through a big gap to post first points for the Knights.
North Sydney had the next chance to score that the Knights defended without conceding, before consecutive sets allowed Newcastle to build pressure that led to a Brendan Elliott try.
A penalty in front of the posts gave the Knights a gift two points, before another penalty gave them field position yet again, before one of the most exciting young prospects in the competition, Nick Meaney, scored and converted to take Newcastle to a 20-0 lead.
The Bears had to be next to score if they were to stay in the contest, and thankfully they did just that through their powerhouse winger Abbas Miski in the right corner after a left-to-right shift.
While that try was very conventional, the next was the complete opposite as the Bears threw the ball around on the fifth tackle like it was a hot potato. The skill of both five-eighth and winger came into play when Latrell Robinson put in a pin-point cross-field bomb under pressure to the wing of Tautalatasi Tasi, who snatched the ball out of the air and planted it down with perfection.
Newcastle started the second half with a bang, crossing the line that would have put the margin out to 18 however Jacob Gagan was unable to ground the ball. North Sydney then went up the other end of the field with a similar chance, but a bad pass to Adam Doueihi from dummy half.
A first tackle error gave Newcastle another chance just 10 minute into the second half, and Elliott took it upon himself to score with some individual brilliance when he put in a grubber, chased hard, won the race and planted the ball down.
Another penalty goal notched the margin out further, before the Knights built more pressure thanks to consecutive forced dropouts that led to a Pearsall try as he hit and spun through the Bears defence.
Brad Deitz and Joseph Morris scored a try each from dummy half for their respective sides, before Levido scored a great try when he ran across-field and straightened through a hole which made the final score 40-18.