A classy performance from Mason Lino helped the Newcastle Knights record a hard-fought 20-16 win over the Vodafone Warriors at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Opening the 2020 Canterbury Cup NSW season at home, the Knights showed plenty of strike across the park in a match where goal kicking proved the difference and a significant improvement from their 2019 campaign.
Converting three from three, setting up the opening try and controlling the match with his precise kicking game, Lino showcased his strong talents and drove his side to a win against a hungry Vodafone Warriors outfit.
In rain-affected conditions the Knights struck an early blow through Zac Hosking to open the scoring in the fifth minute following a well-placed grubber from Lino.
Hitting back in the 15th minute through Adam Keighran, the Vodafone Warriors halfback latched onto an intercept before streaking 50 metres to touch down underneath the black dot.
Reclaiming the lead in the 26th minute via a Lino penalty from close range, the advantage proved to be short lived as returning Vodafone Warriors junior Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard marked his visit to the club with a bulldozing run over Knights defence and scored, gifting the visitors a 12-8 lead.
Striking back on the stroke of halftime through Jack Cameron, the Newcastle interchange forward showed a surge of determination to carry several defenders over the line to give the Knights a 14-12 lead at the change of ends.
Producing the try of the match in the 65th minute through late inclusion Matt Cooper, a tremendous break by Chris Randall and flick pass from Tyronne Roberts-Davis set up the Newcastle winger for his first try in the Canterbury Cup NSW.
Holding on in the dying stages despite a late left side raid finished off by Vodafone Warriors fullback Rocco Berry in the 74th minute, the Knights prevailed with a 20-16 victory.
At McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Newcastle Knights 20 (Zac Hosking, Jack Cameron, Matt Cooper tries; Mason Lino 3 conversions, penalty).
Vodafone Warriors 16 (Adam Keighran, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Rocco Berry tries; Adam Keighran 2 conversions).
Halftime: 14-12 Knights.
Vodafone Warriors | Rocco Berry; Setu Tu, Taane Milne, Adam Pompey, Edward Kosi; Paul Turner, Adam Keighran; Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, Sean Mullany, Preston Riki; Tom Ale, Leivaha Pulu; Tyler Slade. Interchange: Temple Kalepo, Jyris Glamuzina, Isaiah Vagana, Emiliano Mikaele.