Warriors coach Nathan Brown was handed another bitter pill by Newcastle on Friday night as the NRL team he helped build stole a 20-16 victory in Gosford.
A year since Brown was shown the door and replaced by Adam O’Brien, the former Knights coach watched on as players he helped develop ran home late over his new gritty side.
Teenage centre Bradman Best was handed his NRL debut by Brown at the end of 2019 and on Friday night showed why he’s one of the brighest young talents in the NRL.
The 19-year-old was under an injury cloud with an ankle sprain coming into the match, but showed the depth of his skill with two stunning try-assists for Hymel Hunt’s double.
His first was a slick flick pass to Hunt on the left edge to put the Knights in front by eight early in the second half, but the best of the two came to seal the victory with four minutes left on the clock.
The Knights were down by two after conceding a try to Ken Maumalo at the opposite end when he came up with a line-break and offload to Hunt in support who scored under the posts.
Ironically, Jayden Brailey scored his first try for the Knights 18 minutes in when he darted from dummy half to score.
In 2019 Brown did all the work to lure Brailey to the Knights from Cronulla, where he was fast-emerging as one of the game’s top young hookers.
Brailey joined on the understanding he would be playing for Brown in 2020, only for the coach to be sacked by the club less than a month after he signed.
Brailey’s craftiness and speed around the ruck is what made Brown pursue him for the Knights’ pack, but that same skill came back to bite him.
However, it didn’t take long for the Warriors to hit back – even after Wade Egan was denied by the Bunker half an hour into the match.
The Warriors were set-up for the conversion when the video referee ruled the hooker had dropped the ball over the line, but Knights half Phoenix Crossland wasn’t square at marker.
Barnstorming forward Ben Murdoch-Masila crashed through lapse defence off the ensuing penalty to level the scores at 6-all.
The Tongan international was a handful in his second game back for the Warriors, finishing with three tacklebreaks and a line-break for the night.
Back-to-back tries to Adam Pompey and Maumalo put the Warriors in the lead late before the Knights came steaming home for their second straight win.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will be waiting on the NRL’s charge sheet on Saturday morning with two players put on report in the first half in Gosford.
Prop Jamayne Taunoa Brown was put on report for crusher tackle on Hymel Hunt, while Jazz Tevaga was pinged for leading with his knee in a tackle on Best.
The Knights will now take on Wests Tigers in Pearce’s 300th NRL match next Sunday, while the Warriors will play Canberra on Saturday.