Defence in itself might not win games, but it goes a long way in deciding how the story unfolds.
The Newcastle Knights beat the New Zealand Warriors 20-16 on Friday night, despite spending much of the game defending their own line and being forced to make over 100 tackles more than the Warriors.
It was a tight encounter throughout the contest, but the Warriors were left ruing one that got away when Newcastle centre Bradman Best cut through the Warriors' right-side defence like a knife through butter and put his winger Hymel Hunt away for the deciding try. The Warriors had the better of the possession and territory, but were unable to convert those into a victory.
The night didn't start well for the Warriors, as left centre Adam Pompey sent the opening kick-off out on the full, but the Knights couldn't capitalise on the field position gifted to them.
It was soon a similar story for the Warriors, who went right onto the attack with three consecutive sets inside the Knights' half, but after earning two set restarts through goal-line dropouts, their third attempt at opening the scoring died when winger David Fusitu'a was carried over the sideline.
Instead, it was the Knights who got things ticking over on the scoreboard through hooker Jayden Brailey, who caught the Warriors' defensive line napping and dashed over from close range after 20 minutes.
While they were impressive early, the Warriors' defensive line was lethargic at the midway point of the first half, and the team lacked intensity, which seemed to be an ominous sign.
Bench forwards Ben Murdoch-Masila, Bunty Afoa and Leeson Ah Mau made sure that wasn't the case, instantly lifting the energy of the team when they were introduced. Murdoch-Masila was rewarded for his effort with a try in the 30th minute.
After a Mitchell Barnett penalty put the Knights ahead once more on the stroke of halftime and Hunt scored his first of two tries soon after the restart, the Warriors again had to play from behind.
However, when fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck eventually found a way to plug himself in the attacking line, it paid off instantly with the captain assisting on two tries down the left edge to give the Warriors the lead.
It looked as though they would be able to hang on for the win with just five minutes to go, before Best brushed off his counterpart Peta Hiku and set up the final try.
Knights 20 (Hymel Hunt 2, Jayden Brailey tries; Mitchell Barnett 3 cons, pen)
Warriors 16 (Ben Murdoch-Masila, Adam Pompey, Ken Maumalo tries; Kodi Nikorima 2 cons)