THERE'LL be no comforts of home for the Knights in this year's finals.
Instead, Newcastle will hit the road for week one of the NRL play-offs after suffering a double-barrelled disaster in the last round of the regular season on Friday night.
Knowing a win would guarantee sixth position and home-ground advantage in their first final, the Knights copped a 36-6 drubbing from Gold Coast Titans at CBus Super Stadium.
That opened the door for South Sydney to leapfrog Newcastle on the points table, providing they could beat Sydney Roosters in the subsequent game at ANZ Stadium.
The Rabbitohs duly delivered a stunning upset to thrash the Roosters 60-8 and finish the year with 24 points, one ahead of the Knights.
That means Souths are now entitled to hosting rights against Newcastle in a do-or-die showdown next week.
Adding to Newcastle's woes, Foxtel reported after the match that Titans utility Tyrone Peachey had spoken to referee Chris Sutton about an alleged racial slur, but he declined to lodge a formal complaint.
In addition, Knights bench forward Jacob Saifiti is on report for an alleged crusher tackle and is in danger of being suspended.
Had the Knights beaten Gold Coast, it would have ensured their first home final since 2006, when names like Andrew Johns, Danny Buderus and Matthew Gidley featured on the team sheet.
Newcastle's lacklustre performance in their last game before the post-season will be a huge concern for coach Adam O'Brien, regardless of next week's venue.
Rather than entering the play-offs buoyed by the confidence and momentum of consecutive wins, O'Brien's troops now face a week of soul-searching before taking on the Rabbitohs.
In complete contrast to the Knights, Souths rose to the occasion on Friday night to grab sixth rung on the ladder and a clear psychological advantage.