NRL: Newcastle Knights hold on for third-straight win

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has credited the tenacious football of captain Mitchell Pearce for bringing the side within reach of the NRL's top eight after a 22-10 defeat of Canterbury in Brisbane.

The Knights halfback was everywhere in the first half to set up a 16-0 lead, grubbering twice to himself on the same play before winning the race to the ball for the side's second try.

He was so busy he was setting them up for the Bulldogs too, Reimis Smith intercepting his pass and running 95-metres for the their first points midway through the second half.

That play brought the Bulldogs into the contest for the first time all afternoon and they peppered Newcastle's line for the next 15 minutes before a Will Hopoate try trimming the deficit to six near the hour mark.

They came close twice more but desperate Knights defence stemmed the flow before Kalyn Ponga stepped and weaved in broken play to seal the result.

That try came about when Pearce dived on a loose ball and was perhaps fortuitous not to have been called for a knock-on.

"The loose ball and competing bit is the most pleasing thing," coach Nathan Brown said of his skipper's recent form.

"That's what he's been doing really well lately ... it gets a bit contagious.

"We seem to understand what works for us now and hopefully we can keep doing it, but she's a tough business to keep doing it."

Dylan Napa narrowly won the battle with Newcastle's David Klemmer - in his first game against former club - running for 178m in his second game back from an ankle injury to press his Queensland State of Origin case.

Ponga orchestrated the Knights' first try, staring half Jack Cogger in the eye as he ran to the line before his short pass put Hymel Hunt through a gap just to the left of the uprights.

They stretched the lead to 16-0 on the first-half bell when Lachlan Fitzgibbon - in his 50th NRL game - spun through the line and jagged a try of his own.

The result rooted the Bulldogs (2-7) to the bottom of the ladder while the Knights (4-5) are one win outside the top eight.

Bulldogs coach Dean Pay conceded they had made too many first-half errors but, when asked for his thoughts on the lead-up to the late Ponga try, reflected that they seemed to be playing without luck.

"We're not getting the bounce of the ball at all," he said.

"We fought really hard in the second half to give ourselves a chance to win the game, just couldn't get it done."