Knights skipper Mitchell Pearce kicks a field goal on debut to seal 19-18 golden-point win against Manly.

He was brought here to deliver that something extra special to help guide the Knights out of the NRL basement and back to being a premiership heavyweight again.

But no-one could have scripted Mitchell Pearce’s 88th-minute heroics against the Sea Eagles in just his first game for the club.

With the season-opener on the line in the final two minutes of golden point extra time, the Knights playmaker nailed a pressure field goal to hand his side a dramatic 19-18 win.

At the same time, it sent a massive crowd of 23,516 fans, who have bravely sat through three years of mediocrity but never given up on their team, into raptures.

Pearce paid tribute to the support.

“It was like a rep game out there tonight and nothing I have ever experienced at club level,” he said.

“It got us the win in the end. The crowd got behind us and got us the win. It’s a special feeling.

“Obviously, it’s only round one and we are a team that’s building. But there has been such a great buzz around pre-season and to start a season in that way, it is special for sure.”

It was a pulsating contest which could have gone either way with Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans missing two field goal attempts in golden point that could have got his side home.

While Pearce put his stamp on the end of the game, it was fullback Kalyn Ponga who lived up to all the hype with a brilliant  performance at the back, coming up with a brilliant solo try with his second touch of the footy.

He also pulled off a great try-saver on former Knights Aku Uate.

But the Knights pack also deserved plenty of praise up against a hardened Manly pack.

Prop Herman Ese’ese ran for 185 metres from 22 carries while hooker Slade Griffin justified coach Nathan Brown’s faith in him with an outstanding debut for his new club.

A controversial selection in front of Test hooker Danny Levi, Griffin scored a tough try from dummy-half and came up with 40 tackles in a tireless performance.

“I thought our forwards were unbelievable,” Pearce said.

“Manly’s had a hardened forward pack for a while and I thought our forward pack outplayed them. 

On Pearce’s winning field goal, coach Brown offered: “Junior [Pearce] did what he got brought here to do I suppose – put the polish on the end of the game.”

“We are all excited. We had such a great crowd and for them to see us win a game like that, it’s great.”

Manly coach Trent Barrett lamented his side’s error count of 17 and 67 percent completions.

“We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win it but we nearly did,”he said.

The two sides were locked at 12-all at halftime with Ponga’s 4th minute try a highlight.

Hero: Mitchell Pearce is swamped, teammates celebrate and 23,516 fans go wild after the Knights halfback nails the winning field goal in golden point to sink Manly at McDonald Jones Stadium. Picture: Darren Pateman

Hero: Mitchell Pearce is swamped, teammates celebrate and 23,516 fans go wild after the Knights halfback nails the winning field goal in golden point to sink Manly at McDonald Jones Stadium. Picture: Darren Pateman

Try: Knights hooker Slade Griffin capped off a great game with a first half try. Picture: Darren Pateman

Try: Knights hooker Slade Griffin capped off a great game with a first half try. Picture: Darren Pateman

Ponga then brilliantly saved a try early in the second half when he flung himself at Uate and knocked the ball out of his hands as he reach out to score.

Manly hit the front through Brian Kelly before Lachlan Fitzgibbon crossed midway through the second half for a two point lead before Cherry-Evans kicked a penalty goal three minutes for full-time to send it into golden point.

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