The Illawarra Cutters were defeated by the Newcastle Knights 38-16 at Newcastle Sports Showground on Sunday.
The loss for the Cutters was disappointing but they still remain in second place heading into the most important period of the season.
The away side were the first to score in the ninth minute as a long effort from Charly Runciman was finished off by late-inclusion Nathan Smith for a 4-0 lead.
In the 25th minute, Newcastle evened the scores when winger Josh Mantellato scored to make it 4-4.
The Knights went back-to-back when Patrick Vaivai scored with a short-range try.
Mantellato converted for a 10-4 lead on the halfhour mark.
Just before the half-time break the home side extended their lead even further as halfback Michael Dobson capitalised on some good work from Akuila Uate to score.
Another conversion from Josh Mantellato meant the Knights went into the interval with a 16-4 lead.
In the 50th minute, experienced player Timana Tahu scored for the Knights.
Mantellato made no mistake and extended the lead to 22-4.
Prop-forward Dan Hunt scored for the Cutters to reduce the gap and give the team some hope with 20 minutes to go.
Sam Duggan converted Hunt’s try to trail 22-10.
In the 62nd minute, Nathan Ross extended the home sides lead to 26-10 and put the Cutters in a difficult spot to continue their recent run of form.
The Knights put the result beyond doubt when Clint Newton dived onto a grubber to score.
Mantellato converted again for a 32-10 lead.
With ten minutes to go, fullback Kyle Eather continued his impressive season with a try but it was a case of too little too late.
Sam Duggan converted for the second time to reduce the gap 32-16.
Late in the game, Josh Mantellato finished off the Cutters and a great performance from him when he scored for the home side.
He converted to give the Knights a 38-16 victory.
Illawarra Cutters 16. Tries: Hunt, Eather, Smith. Goals: Duggan (2/3).
Newcastle Knights 38. Tries: Mantellato (2), Newton, Ross, Tahu, Vaivai, Dobson. Goals: Mantellato (4/6), Dobson (1/1).