THE Knights secured their first second-tier title in 20 years with a 20-10 victory over Central Coast rivals Wyong in a spiteful NSW Cup grand final at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday.
Blown away by Penrith in the corresponding game last year, the Knights recovered from an early 4-0 deficit to lead 14-4 by half-time then extended that to 20-4 early in the second half but they had to stave off a late rally by the Roos.
Before Sunday, the Knights last won the reserve-grade premiership in 1995 -- an achievement to be celebrated at the Once-A-Knight Old Boys grand final lunch at Wests New Lambton next Friday.
The Knights will now play Queensland Cup premiers Ipswich Jets in the State Championship grand final at 3.40pm next Sunday in the curtain-raiser to the NRL decider between the Broncos and Cowboys at ANZ Stadium.
That will give retiring captain Clint Newton one more game in Newcastle colours before he hangs up his boots.
Winger Honeti Tuha scored a hat-trick of tries for the Knights and his left-edge centre partner Kerrod Holland scored a try and kicked two sideline conversions.
It was Newcastle's first victory over the Roos this year after going down 28-26 in Newcastle and 18-6 at Kanwal in the preliminary rounds.
The Knights finished seventh heading into the finals but eliminated sixth-placed Manly, third-placed Penrith and minor premiers Mounties before beating the second-placed Roos on Sunday.
Wyong had won five in a row and 10 of their previous 11 games heading into the grand final but made too many handling errors to build any pressure on the Knights and left their run too late.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 20 (H Tuha 3, K Holland tries; K Holland 2 goals) defeat WYONG ROOS 10 (N Smith 2 tries; T Cornish goal) at Parramatta Stadium.