THE Newcastle Knights launched their 2019 NRL campaign in style and buried their Cronulla hoodoo in the process with a gritty, grafting 14-8 victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
The Sharks had beaten Newcastle in their previous eight NRL games, a streak dating back to 2015, and also in a trial match at Maitland 13 days ago.
But the new-look Knights, bolstered by seven players making their NRL debuts, conquered their long-time bogey team in front of a jubilant 21,813-strong crowd.
A runaway intercept try by one of the new recruits, former Cronulla winger Edrick Lee, put Newcastle in front in the 75th minute.
Lee latched onto a cut-out pass from Sharks halfback Chad Townsend and raced 88 metres to score.
The Knights claimed a moral victory by holding the visitors to a nil-all scoreline at half-time.
Indeed, Newcastle were unlucky not to lead at the interval.
They were denied a try when the video-review bunker ruled winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall had fumbled a Mitchell Pearce chip kick in the 17th minute.
Eight minutes earlier, Lee knocked on with the line begging after a Pearce pass bounced at his feet.
Lee proceeded to make amends with a series of crucial defensive decisions that repeatedly bustled former Test centre Josh Dugan into error.
Dugan appeared to have produced the perfect response three minutes into the second half when he grubber kicked ahead and waited for the inside pass from Katoa, before racing away to dive over.
The video referee, however, ruled Katoa had intentionally knocked the ball forward and awarded Newcastle a penalty.
Newcastle suffered a double blow in the 45th minute, when bench prop Daniel Saifiti limped off with a knee injury, and the Sharks opened the scoring through a Shaun Johnson penalty goal.
Five minutes later, the Knights were back on level terms after five-eighth Kalyn Ponga kicked a penalty.
The Sharks looked set to break the deadlock in the 65th minute when centre Brett Morris and winger Sosaia Feki broke clear, only for desperate defence from fullback Connor Watson and Pearce to foil a threatening situation.
The opening try came from an unlikely source when Tim Glasby, the former Melbourne prop making his Newcastle debut, burst onto a Pearce short ball and stepped Sharks fullback Matt Moylan to score the 11th try of his career.
Three minutes later, the Sharks equalised after a controverisal penalty try awarded to Sharks winger Sione Katoa.
Lee was ruled to have prevented Katoa from scoring after he and Dugan chased a Johnson grubber kick in-goal.
Lee went from villain to hero three minutes later with the 48th try of his NRL career.