THE Newcastle Knights pulled off a thrilling 28-22 win over New Zealand Warriors at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Eighteen-year-old rookie Sione Mata'utia scored a hat-trick of tries for the Knights, who have now won three of their last four games.
In a tight match, the Knights jumped to a 14-point lead within the first 30 minutes, but found themselves pegged back to 14-all shortly after half-time.
Second-half tries to brothers Sione and Chanel Mata'utia had Newcastle regain the lead before the Warriors provided a late comeback to finish six points adrift.
In the end the sides were only separated by Kurt Kidley's boot - the veteran kicked four from seven goals, with the Warriors' Chad Townsend managing to convert just one of his side's five tries.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett praised Sione Mata'utia post-game, saying he saw the versatile back as a future captain of the club.
Newcastle head north to face the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with Bennett up against the club he will join next season.