CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Newcastle’s Peter Mata’utia prepares to pounce on a loose ball. Picture: Getty ImagesSOUTH Sydney racked up their eighth successive win against Newcastle with a 24-18victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
The Knights led 12-10 at half-time, despite running into a stiff wind, but paid the price for errors and ill-discipline after the break.
It was nonetheless their best performance against Souths since they last beat the Rabbitohs in 2011, and a vast improvement on some of the hidings they have endured in recent seasons.
Newcastle had Southsprop George Burgess to thank for turning an early 10-0 deficit into a two-pointhalf-time lead.
With his team in possession, Burgess was sin-binned after throwing an elbow and punches during a confrontation with Knights lock Mitch Barnett.
A minute later, Newcastle skipper Trent Hodkinson stepped inside Sam Burgess to score next to the posts, then converted his own try.
Newcastle scored a second try, by centre Peter Mata’utia in the left-hand corner, while George Burgess was serving his penance.
A 38th-minute penalty goal by Hodkinson, after a late hit on Newcastle five-eighth Brock Lamb, put the home side in the lead.
George Burgess capped off a frustrating half seconds before the siren when he barged across the line, only to spill the ball trying to ground it.
Souths drew first blood in the seventh minute when fullback Alex Johnston extended his freakish tryscoring record against Newcastle.
It was Johnston’s 10thtry against the Knights in five games.
When Souths-back-rower John Sutton charged over after a Cody Walker short ball, it was 10-0 to the visitors, who were looking in ominous form.
The Knights, with a howling southerly at their backs, gifted Souths great attacking position at the start of the second half when Lamb inexplicably caught the kick-off, instead of allowing it to go out on the full, and Jacob Saifiti was trapped in-goal.
From the ensuing set of tackles, Walker grubber-kicked and winger Bryson Goodwin was on the spot to score.
Reynolds threw a classy cut-out pass in the 58thminute to gift-wrap a try for winger Braidon Burns, then converted for a 22-12 lead.
Any hopes of a Newcastle fightback were seemingly torpedoed in the 70thminute, when Hodkinson was sin-binned for dissent, apparently after telling referee Dave Munro: “You’ve just cost us the game.’’
Hodkinson was reacting after Souths won a scrum against the feed, denying Newcastle a prime attacking opportunity.
But with two minutes left in the game, the Knights gave 15,212 spectators hope when winger Ken Sio scored from a Jamie Buhrer grubber, and Lamb converted from the sideline.