NRLNewcastle Knights beat Brisbane Broncos 15-10 to retain 100 per cent record at home this season.

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ACTIONS spoke louder for the Newcastle Knights on Saturday than words at the post-match press conference.
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SMILING ASSASSIN: Newcastle Knights skipper Mitchell Pearce can’t contain his excitement as he runs out for kick-off against Brisbane on Saturday night. Pictures: Darren Pateman, AAP

While Nathan Brown’s verbal jousting withWayne Bennett dominated media attention, it should not for one moment detract fromwhat Newcastle’s players achieved on the field.

After successive losses to Sydney Roosters (38-8) and St George Illawarra (30-12), memories of Newcastle’s hard-fought wins against Manly and Canberra were fading fast.

PRIME MOVER: Daniel Saifiti scored a try in his best game of the season.

Throw in long-term injuries to centre Tautau Moga (knee) and five-eighth Connor Watson (shoulder) and there was mounting concern about the direction in which the Knights’ season was heading.

Another loss, at home to Brisbane, and the doomsayers would have started emerging from the woodwork, especially with Newcastle’s next three battles–against Melbourne, Wests Tigers and Manly –all to be staged in enemy territory.

But if the Knightstended to fold all too easily under pressure during their three previous wooden-spoon campaigns, on Saturday they responded emphatically at McDonald Jones Stadium.

In a grinding, gritty contest, the home team prevailed15-10, and the scoreline flattered Brisbane.

WORKHORSE: Hooker Slade Griffin was again outstanding for Newcastle.

It was a victory founded onstaunch defence, and Brown was more than happy to label it the best all-round performance of his 53-game tenure.

Skipper Mitchell Pearce revealed afterwards that the coach delivered some home truths after being overpowered by the Dragons, which had the desired effect.

“We had a really big week,” Pearce said. “Not many people see it, but behind closed doorsBrowny gave us a really big rev-up and the boys responded.

“We’ve been really happy with some parts of our game, but defensively it just hasn’t been good enough in some of the effort areas.

“But it wastop-shelf, world-class tonight.”

Brown said before a ball was kicked in season 2018, Newcastle identified their season-opener against Manly and the round-five clash with Brisbane –the only two home fixtures in their first eight games –as must-win.

“It was really important,” Brown said.

“I think we’d all agree that the fans have been through some really tough times, and to be able to reward them with some wins in really close, excitinggames is great, and obviously for our position on the points table as well …our first two games at home, we’ve beaten two sides who I believe are very, very good sides and are playing well and are going to be there at the end of the year.”

Saturday’s crowd of 21,969, which followed the 23,516 turnout against Manly, again provided a parochial, tribal atmosphere, and the men in red and blue responded accordingly.

It has been many seasonssince rival teams feared playing in Newcastle.

There is a long way to go, but a100 per cent record on home turf speaks for itself.

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