The Mounties have retained their place on top of the NSW Cup ladder following a comprehensive victory over the Newcastle Knights at GIO Stadium.
The table topping Mounties were looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the year last week in Penrith.
They showcased their strong defence early to hold Newcastle out, and despite the blustery conditions at GIO stadium the Mounties were committed to playing their expansive passing game.
It paid off as they were able to score the first points of the game in the 8th minute, as some great passing split the Knights defence open and Hawkins was able to score unmarked in the corner.
Mitchell Cornish was able to make the difficult kick to take the Mounties to a 6-0 lead after 9 minutes.
Michael Dobson put the Mounties under pressure following a good set from the Knights, his kick allowed the Knights to trap Joey Bond in goal for repeat sets at the Mounties line.
They scored on the next set of six as Nathan Ross was able to score out wide after beating a few Mounties defenders. Josh Mantellato added the extras and the game was back all square at 6 a piece after 14 minutes.
Newcastle scored again after Dobson put in a deft kick which split the Mounties defence. Chanel Mata’Utia was able to gather the ball and score close to the posts, the conversion was successful and the Knights took a 12-6 lead after 17 minutes.
Following some strong defence the Mounties made a nice break down the wing and took advantage of the good field position from the break, as they scored later in the set.
A loose ball close to the try line was dived on by Mounties interchange player Clay Priest, Cornish missed the kick from under the posts, and the Knights held onto a tight 12-10 lead after 26 minutes.
The very next set the Mounties hit the lead as barnstorming winger Sami Sauiluma made a break following a nice flick pass from Mosese Pangai. Sauiluma passed it inboard and Priest was there to back up for his 2nd try of the game.
Cornish’s conversion was unsuccessful but the Mounties had a 14-12 lead after 28 minutes.
The Momentum continued for the Mounties as they got on top of the Knights, Sauiluma showed some fleet footwork close to the line and managed to beat some poor defence to score.
Bond took over the conversions and he was unsuccessful in his first attempt, but the Mounties held an 18-12 lead after 31 minutes.
Dobson sparked the Knights before half time as he was able to break the line and put Brayden Williame away to score in the corner. The conversion was successful by Mantellato to tie the game at 18 all at half time.
The Mounties were first to score after half time through Mark Nicholls, however the kicking woes continued as Bond couldn’t convert the extras, giving the Mounties a one try lead after 45 minutes.
Jake Foster managed to put Bond through a hole to extend the Mounties lead. Cornish took back the kicking duties, but the result was the same as he missed from the corner.
Newcastle hit back through Ross for his 2nd try under posts, the conversion was successful bringing the game back to 26-24 after 55 minutes.
Two quick tries gave the Mounties a healthy lead. Priest completed his hat trick after picking up a loose pass and Gus Aiga scored as well.
Cornish found his kicking boot as he was able to convert both tries to give the Mounties a 38-24 lead after 64 minutes.
A cross field kick by Matt Place added more joy for the Mounties as Foster was able to gather kick and score close to the posts, Cornish added the extras and the margin ballooned to a healthy 20 points.
Newcastle managed to get a late consolation try through Mata’Utia and Mantellato kept his perfect kicking record intact as he converted from the sideline.
Sauiluma added the icing on the cake when he intercepted an errant Knights pass and marched 80 metres to score under the posts.
In a game where the Mounties were comprehensive victors, they were best served by hooker Matt McIlwrick who was tireless in both attack and defence.
Mounties 50 defeated Newcastle 30
Tries: Priest 3, Sauiluma 2, Hawkins, Nicholls, Bond, Foster, Aiga; Goals: Cornish 5
Tries: Ross 2, 2 Mata’Utia, Williame; Goals: Mantellato 5