NRL: Newcastle Knights find new heroes in Cronulla Sharks win

Newcastle have declared they're no longer a two-man band after Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga took a backseat in Friday's 14-8 NRL season-opening win over Cronulla.

Knights coach Nathan Brown knew his side needed another hero and plenty of his charges stood up to be counted in the controversy-tinged victory.

David Klemmer proved why he's considered the missing piece of the Knights' puzzle, bulldozing 186m and laying the foundation for the win.

Lock Tim Glasby showed why he shapes as such an astute buy and put the cherry on his first performance in the red, blue and white with a second-half try.

While fellow recruit and ex-Shark Edrick Lee came up with three try-savers and the match-winning intercept four-pointer, leading Brown to say he didn't know just how good he could be.

"It's humbling to hear from the coach, it sort of caught me off guard," Lee said

"I know I must be doing something right with my prep, with how I'm handling myself at training."

Brown said the fact halves Pearce and Ponga didn't engineer the win, and they were able to rely on other members of their squad, proved they possessed a more rounded roster in 2019.

"I was just happy we won a game when Kalyn Ponga and Pearcy weren't the star players," Brown said.

"If we came here tonight and said we were going to win and Pearcey and Kalyn weren't going to be in the best three or four players, everyone would have laughed at us."

Brown also took great delight in getting a win over the Sharks, having been Cronulla's punching bag for several years, losing their previous eight match-ups.

Also ringing loudly in his ears were the words of Sharks skipper Paul Gallen who 18 months ago declared the Knights were two or three years away from being a top eight side and wouldn't win a premiership for a "long, long time".

"Gal's not frightened to say what he thinks but I'd be more interested to see what Gal thinks of us now," Brown said.

"It would be interesting to see if he thinks we're an improved footy side, that's they key for us.

"If you change the perception of opposition players, if they start to think they're going to go home bruised, that's a big starting point because it obviously hasn't been the case for a while."