Newcastle's losing streak was yesterday extended to 18 after a controversial 28-26 defeat to St George Illawarra.

Knights back-rower Jeremy Smith was harshly penalised in the final minute for kneeing Kurt Mann in the tackle and Gareth Widdop slotted a game-winning goal, giving the Dragons a winning end to a disappointing season in what could be Benji Marshall's final first-grade game.

After a shocking 2016, Newcastle will start next season seeking to end the worst losing streak in the NRL.

Their horror campaign marked the first time since Gold Coast in 1993 that a team won only one game in a season.