Hamilton were slow to get going, but the four-time Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union premiers had enough grunt to overpower Merewether-Carlton 27-10 at Townson Oval on Saturday and spoil the official opening of the $2 million Green Room.
With Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and other dignitaries on hand, the Greens jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
But the home side's energy and enthusiasm was soon drained out of them by a methodical Hamilton forward pack.
The Hawks dominated the scrums, despite Merewether being beefed up by the arrival of English bookends Dave Whiting and Charlie Brown.
Defensively the visitors forced the Greens into error and then they waited for their opportunities.
Dane Sherratt landed a penalty in the 20th minute to cut the gap to 10-3.
A minute later, replacement fullback Zach Crowley brushed through a poor attempt at a tackle and raced 15 metres to tie the scores up.
Five minutes before half-time, Sherratt chipped perfectly to the corner for Hamish McKie to touch down for a 15-10 advantage at the break.
Captain Jarome Wilson and giant Fijian Seva Rokobaro tried to lift the Greens. They battled and scrapped hard despite being camped in their own territory. Five times they held Hamilton up over the line.
Eventually the pressure took a toll. Tieuti Asi powered over from the back of the Hawks scrum in the 60th minute to end the margin to 20-10. The powerhouse No.8 repeated the dose in the dying moments to ice the win.
The bonus-point victory moved the Hawks into the outright competition lead at the halfway point.
Elsewhere, Chase Hicks scored a hat-trick as Wanderers out-classed Southern Beaches 68-5 at Ernie Calland Oval to retain the Hawthorne Cup and jump above Merewether into second spot.
Pat Batey came off the bench to score the winner as Maitland claimed a bruising encounter with Lake Macquarie 21-14 at Marcellin Park.
At Strong Oval, Nelson Bay ended a four-game losing streak with a confidence boosting 39-24 win over Singleton.