Concussed Knights skipper Mitchell Pearce admitted he was in awe watching from the sideline as he side courageously overcame a torrent of adversity to fight out a golden point 14-all draw with Penrith yesterday.
Pearce said he has been a part of and witnessed some gutsy performances in his career but none any better than his side's brave effort at Campbelltown Stadium.
In a drama-charged 90 minutes that had everything, the Knights lost Pearce to concussion after just four minutes and starting hooker Connor Watson less than five minutes later to an ankle injury.
Neither returned but despite fielding three debutants and playing the majority of the game with a two-man bench, they somehow found the resilience to fight back from 14-0 down midway through the first half to force the draw.
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"I've been around a while now but that is definitely right up there among the gutsiest wins that I've ever seen given the circumstances," Pearce said.
"Given who we were missing going into the game and then to lose myself and Connor - to come back from 14-0 down like that - it's pretty special. I was just so proud of the boys efforts watching from the sideline. I was riding the boys home and trying to call as many plays as I could without the crowd there.
"To defend six or seven sets on our line like we did there in the second half was unbelievable and every one of the boys who was out there, no matter how young or old, was saying 'follow me'.
The Knights were without Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Barnett, Jayden Brailey and lost Lachlan Fitzgibbon to injury on Saturday. Their three debutants, Tex Hoy, Chris Randall and Brodie Jones were all were outstanding.
Randall worked himself to a standstill to make a remarkable 71 tackles, easily a record for a player on debut. Hoy threatened and showed some outstanding defensive qualities while Jones wasn't overawed by the occasion.
Pearce, who says he'll be right to play next Sunday against the Canberra Raiders, admitted he has little memory of the head knock after he was concussed trying to make a tackle.
"I don't remember much about it but they said I had a bit of a wobbly leg coming off and it probably took me a good 15 minutes to clear my head afterwards," he said.
"I've still got a bit of a headache but I'm all good now. We didn't come away with the two points but you can take little wins out of results and there were plenty of big wins out of that."
With the scores locked at 14-all at fulltime, golden point was full of drama.
Panthers five-eighth Matt Burton hit the upright with one of his five unsuccessful attempts at field goal in the game and two try star Bradman Best bombed a try-scoring opportunity for the Knights which would have sealed it for the visitors in the first period of golden point.
Hoy missed with two field goal attempts in golden point while Kurt Mann missed one in regulation time.
Newcastle were left reeling 10 minutes in. Randall came on for Pearce and Jones came on for Watson during the early injury carnage.
Hoy, renowned for his attacking ability, came up with two try-saving tackles on Panthers centre Dean Whare not long after. Both times, Whare was denied after being held up over the line.
Then centre Enari Tuala denied Josh Mansour when the Panthers winger looked likely to score in the corner with further desperate defence.
The Panthers early pressure finally told though when backrower Viliame Kikau crashed through to scored from close range for a 6-0 advantage after 19 minutes.
The Knights then lost Tim Glasby to the head-bin midway though the half before Penrith extended the advantage to 14-0 after a rare eight point try which proved crucial in the end.
Backrower Kurt Capewell crossed for the Panthers with Edrick Lee penalised for lashing out with his boot after he grounded the ball for the try.
Centre Stephen Crichton kicked both goals for the 14 point advantage.
But courageously, after being horribly on the wrong side of the possession count, the Knights somehow found the energy to hit back.
Right on halftime, prop Jacob Saifiti stormed over under the posts with Hoy converting to give Newcastle hope going into the second half. They came up with some inspired defence on their own line in the opening 15 minutes after the break to keep Penrith out and then for good measure, went up the other end and scored themselves.
Centre Best stormed over out wide, capitalising on a late Glasby off-load to catch the Panthers defence out. Hoy missed the goal but it was 14-10.
Best's double 10 minutes later after some great work from Edrick Lee following a kick tied it all up.