The Sydney Roosters have kept alive their hopes of a third consecutive minor premiership with a 38-22 win over Newcastle, who launched a late fightback at Hunter Stadium.
The Roosters were not remotely hindered by the absence of rested half-back Mitchell Pearce as they leapt out to a 32-0 lead before the Knights scored 22 straight points to give them a scare, but a late James Maloney four-pointer put the result beyond doubt. After watching the two teams ahead of them on the ladder, Brisbane and North Queensland, lose on Friday and Saturday, the third-placed Roosters moved within two competition points of the top two with a win that appeared beyond doubt after the first 40 minutes. Wingers Daniel Tupou and Brendan Elliot touched down in the first 13 minutes before full-back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck nabbed a first-half double. It appeared the Roosters would head to the break leading 20-0, but Knights winger Nathan Ross had an air swing at a seemingly innocuous bomb, allowing prop Kane Evans, free to play after avoiding a ban for a shoulder charge last week, to extend the lead even further in the shadows of half-time. The lead was pushed to 32-0 in the first minute after the break when Tuivasa-Sheck picked up his hat-trick after the officials missed a blatant forward pass by Tupou during a nice play down the left wing, but then the Knights made their move. Sione Mata'utia barged his way over the line in the 45th minute before two errors from Tuivasa-Sheck gifted the Knights a pair of tries. The Warriors-bound custodian failed to deal with a Tyrone Roberts grubber, allowing Joseph Tapine to score his first NRL try before back rower Jeremy Smith touched down in the 64th when Tuivasa-Sheck knocked on as he attempted to catch a bomb. Kurt Gidley then crossed after a run of penalties, but that was where the comeback ended as Roosters five-eighth Maloney scythed through the defence during a left-side shift in the 76th minute to ice the game. The hosts were also reduced to 15 men after losing hooker Tyler Randell (eye) and back rower Beau Scott (foot) with half an hour remaining to add to the bad news on an already abysmal afternoon for the last-placed Knights.