Newly re-signed Newcastle Knights superstar Kalyn Ponga kicked off on a brisk night on the Central Coast and with the first set of six tackles the Broncos set about making an impression on the Knights defence.
Tevita Pangai Junior was back for the Broncos and he was keen to make up for lost time, but it didn't last long, with the Knights eventually ruling the middle of the park on their way to a convincing 27-6 victory.
It also didn't take long for Brisbane's much-maligned five-eighth Anthony Milford to bring a groan to Broncos fans. His high kick three minutes into the game was caught comfortably on the full by Edrick Lee in his own in-goal area, for a set of seven tackles. It was a simple error, but one which will usually compound over a period of 80 minutes against quality opposition.
It wasn't until ten minutes in that the scoreboard was troubled, thanks to some Mitchell Pearce brilliance. Pearce took the ball ten metres out from the Broncos line and ran at his opposite number Brodie Croft. He jinked, stepped and held onto the ball longer than anyone expected as he fished for Croft's commitment. As soon as he saw the Broncos' half plant his feet and turn towards him, he slipped the pass to Kurt Mann who strolled over untouched. The whole Broncos defensive line was caught flat-footed watching Pearce, to see what he was going to produce.
Four minutes later it was the Broncos' turn to threaten the line, with the ball passed though the hands to winger Corey Oates who crashed over out wide. With Knights' centre Gehamat Shibasaki and Pearce struggling to hold Oates up, Jamayne Isaako came in and pushed the pile over, allowing Oates to ground the ball. The bunker decided that the try would not have been scored without Isaako's interference with the defence and so the try was disallowed.
It wasn't long after that, that Isaako found himself on the wrong side of the whistle again. This time he was ruled to have committed a professional foul in interfering with a Knights player and was sent to the sin bin. The Knights didn't waste time taking advantage of the one-man advantage.
It was some Mann magic this time which saw the Knights cross again. After Ponga had nearly scored and the Broncos were penalised for a ruck infringement, the ball was passed to Mann who saw an opportunity to put a grubber kick through the line for his winger. The kick rolled little more than sideways but ended in Hymel Hunt's hands with no defenders between him and the line. Ponga converted to take a handy 12-0 first-half lead.
With the Knights looking comfortable and well on the attack, hooker Andrew McCullough may have forgotten his recent transfer from the Broncos to the Knights. He took a couple of steps out of dummy-half and passed it wide, only for speedster Xavier Coates to nab an intercept and race away for the Broncos first points. Converted by Herbie Farnworth it brought the score to 12-6 in the Knights' favour.
The slippery conditions in Gosford were making for a sloppy game as both teams struggled to complete their sets. Any heavy contact was making it difficult to hang onto the ball. With 10 seconds left in the half, the Knights worked their way in front of the Broncos' posts and Pearce took the lead to seven points with a calmly slotted field goal.
Three minutes into the second half, some careless Broncos defence saw the Knights score again. Daniel Saifiti took a hit up and just when it looked like he was well contained by several Broncos defenders, he twisted, lunged and fell over the line. Ponga converted and the Knights took a 19-6 lead.
The Knights were enjoying more possession and greater field position and they threatened the Broncos line again 47 minutes into the game. This time the Broncos were somehow able to hold on.
The Knights were never troubled from then on; a Ponga penalty goal was followed later by Pearce scoring a try of his own with just three minutes remaining. Pearce once again attacked the line hard, stepped off his right foot and was through to score. Ponga converted to complete a perfect night with the boot.
The Broncos slumped to their fourth-straight loss since the season resumption, while the Knights maintained their lofty position near the top of the ladder.