SOME wins are worth far more than two competition points.
The Newcastle Knights didn't just beat any old team in their season-opening 14-6 triumph against Cronulla at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
They exorcised some longstanding demons in the process, and proved a point not only to Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen and his formidable teammates, but perhaps even more importantly to themselves.
The Sharks, of course, have ruthlessly beaten and bullied Newcastle in recent times.
Since the start of 2015, they had hammered the Knights in eight consecutive NRL games by a combined scoreline of 281-78, as well as a 30-6 victory in the pre-season trial at Maitland earlier this month.
Five of Newcastle's players - Sione Mata'utia, Danny Levi, Daniel Saifiti, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Mitch Barnett - had never previously won a game against Cronulla, and Mata'utia, Saifiti and Levi are unlikely to ever forget the 62-0 shellacking Gallen's men handed them in 2016.
But Newcastle's new-look team, bolstered by off-season imports David Klemmer, Tim Glasby, James Gavet, Edrick Lee, Hymel Hunt, Kurt Mann and Jesse Ramien, showed much-welcomed resolve and resilience to beat the Sharks at their own game.
The sight of several Knights players giving Gallen a verbal spray when he knocked-on near full-time was a square-up a long time in the making.
The performance and result and should provide a priceless boost to Newcastle's collective belief. It was only the second time in 73 games since coach Nathan Brown took the reins in 2016 that the Knights have kept their opponents' score below double figures.
"I would hope that as a club it will help pull us tighter together ... hopefully that feeling, and how they competed on the field against a good footy side, brings a bit of confidence and makes it worthwhile," Brown said.
There would appear plenty of reason to believe that the Knights can continue to grow as the season progresses.
While Newcastle's defence was a vast improvement on last season, when they conceded on average more than 25 points per game, they were conservative in attack, and coach Brown admitted it was pleasing to win a game without halves Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga dominating. It was a grinding, gritty win that could prove the perfect foundation from which to launch a successful campaign.
Knights lock Tim Glasby, who marked his club debut with a try and 21 tackles, knows what is required, having featured in the past three grand finals with his former club, Melbourne.
"Obviously we need to celebrate this win, because it was a really good performance," Glasby said.
"But now we'll go back and look at some areas we need to work on, and other areas that we did really well.
"It's a long season, and every win is hard-earned, but the goal is to keep winning consistently."