The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 36-26 by the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle on Sunday.
The Young Dragons managed five tries in the loss with winger Sitiveni Moceidreke banking a double during the second period of play.
Co-Head Coaches Ben Hornby and Dean Young made only the one change to the line-up announced in midweek with second-rower Luciano Leilua returning from injury to start in liue of Wes Lolo.
The latter was preferred on the interchange while prop Jay Gallagher was rested for the game.
Dragons co-captain Addin Fonua-Blake, who recently re-signed for a further two season with the Club, proved the differential early on with a blistering four-pointer in the sixth minute.
Dragons five-eighth Shannon Crook converted to make it 6-0.
However, the early advantage shown by the visitors were short lived as the Knights fired back with four converted tries prior to the interval.
Knights second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon was the first to breach the visiting defence courtesy of some strong supportive play in the 12th minute.
Knights winger Bryce Donovan later notched a four-pointer of his own five minutes later before five-eighth Brock Lamb followed suit in the 21st minute.
The Knights rounded-out their try-scoring blitz through Donovan who banked his second of the encounter just shy of the half hour mark.
The Knights flanker converted all four of his conversion attempts during the period.
The home side were awarded a penalty converted from the tee by Donavan in the 32nd minute.
The visitors proved quickest off the block when second-half play recommenced and managed to narrow the points deficit through prop Jack Kavanagh in the 47th minute.
The Dubbo Eastridge Cobras junior’s charge-and-barge across the stripe was the perfect reward for some neat set-up play by his teammates in the build-up.
Crook converted to make it 26-12.
However, the celebrations were short lived as Knights centre Chance Peni scribed his name on the scoresheet five minutes later.
Donovan converted to make it 32-12.
Yet, Dragons winger Sitiveni Moceidreke took matters into his own hands and orchestrated a well-read intercept before running nearly the length of the field in the 65th minute.
Unfortunately, much to the applause of those in attendance, Knights lock Joseph Boyce replied with a further four-pointer to the home side four minutes later.
However, the visitors managed two further tries in the final minutes of the match to narrow the deficit to within two converted tries.
Dragons halfback Adam Clune was the orchestrator of the first successful plant with some smart ball manoeuvring finding Moceidreke unmarked on the right flank in the 77th minute.
This was followed-up by fullback Matt Dufty’s dash down the middle third of the field unattested on the siren.
Crook converted the latter attempt from the tee to make it 36-26.
St George Illawarra Dragons 26. Tries: Moceidreke (2), Fonua-Blake, Kavanagh, Dufty. Goals: Crook (3/5).
Newcastle Knights 36. Tries: Donovan (2), Fitzgibbon, Lamb, Peni, Boyce. Goals: Donovan (5/6). Pentaly Try: Lamb (1/1).