AND then there were none.
St George Illawarra won their third straight game and became the first team to beat Newcastle this season, shutting out the Knights 13-0 at a rain-lashed Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
The Knights had been the NRL's only undefeated side heading into the game and were chasing a seventh successive win stretching back to last August, and eighth straight on home soil since they upset the Roosters 16-12 last July.
But in miserable conditions, which restricted the crowd to just 14.261, they could not reproduce the form they showed in the first month of the season and were held scoreless at home for only the fourth time in their history, and for the first time since 2005.
On a bleak night for the Knights, NSW and Australian enforcer Beau Scott was carried from the field with an ankle injury in the 56th minute and his back-row partner Tariq Sims was reported for a high tackle on Tyson Frizell and could be headed for another stint on the sidelines.
Continuing a remarkable strike rate in Newcastle, the Dragons notched their 10th win from their past 11 games at Hunter Stadium and in the process became the inaugural holders of the Alex McKinnon Cup.
The trophy was struck as a tribute to the former Country Origin forward, who suffered a career-ending spinal injury while playing for the Knights against Melbourne in March last year.
An Aberdeen Tigers junior who joined the Dragons from St Gregory's College Campbelltown, McKinnon played three NRL games for St George Illawarra in 2011 before returning to the Hunter Valley in 2012 and making 46 first-grade appearances for the Knights.
The Dragons drew first blood when Fijian winger Eto Nabuli touched down in the corner in the 15th minute after Gareth Widdop jinked and stepped to his left, dragging Newcastle's Aku Uate off his wing. Widdop was astray with the sideline conversion attempt and the Dragons led 4-0.
Trent Merrin bobbled a pass in the lead-up earning the Dragons a restarted tackle count, though Knights fans believed the Penrith-bound NSW forward knocked on.
One minute earlier, Sims was reported for a high tackle on Frizell. Sims was making his first appearance for his new club after missing the first four games serving a suspension incurred in his last match for the Cowboys in last year's finals, and the tackle will be scrutinised by the NRL match review committee on Monday.
Neither side offered much in attack in atrocious conditions but the Dragons, aided by a howling southerly at their backs, ground out a 6-0 lead at the break.
Dragons halves Widdop and Benji Marshall ensured the visitors dominated field position by trickling the ball into Newcastle's in-goal to force several line drop-outs.
Frizell went close to scoring in the 35th minute when he was first man to a Dylan Farrell kick ahead but he could not control the ball as he tried to slam it down one-handed just inside Newcastle's dead-ball line.
Widdop kicked a penalty goal in the 39th minute after he was on the receiving end of a Chris Houston high tackle to extend the Dragons' lead to 6-0. The English pivot tried to stretch that margin to seven points but he was off target with a field-goal attempt in the final seconds of the half.
Halves Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts limited themselves to grubber kicks on most of Newcastle's last-tackle attacking plays and could not crack the Dragons' defensive line.
Scott was slow to his feet after being tackled in the 56th minute and he was carried from the field with suspected ankle ligament damage.
Dragons fullback Josh Dugan capped a strong game when he beat Joey Leilua to score in the 63rd minute, and Widdop converted for a 12-0 lead, then Marshall put the result beyond doubt with a field goal in the 71st minute.
The closest the Knights came to scoring was in the 66th minute when Uate charged at the line but he was bundled into touch by Dragons back-rower Joel Thompson.
DRAGONS 13 KNIGHTS 0
* The Dragons recovered from a 24-10 half-time deficit to beat the Knights 46-36 advantage in the NYC curtain-raiser at Hunter Stadium. Earlier on Saturday in the NSW Cup game at Ziems Park in Corrimal, Jaelen Feeney and Joseph Tapine scored two tries each as the Knights defeated Illawarra Cutters 34-26.