Newcastle have confirmed their status as NRLW heavyweights, beating Gold Coast 24-18 in the grand final to claim back-to-back premierships.
After a career-best season, newly minted Dally M Medallist Tamika Upton was the hero for the Knights at Accor Stadium on Sunday.
In the second of two comebacks she orchestrated in searing Sydney heat, Upton scored two tries to turn a six-point deficit into a game-winning six-point lead in the final 10 minutes.
The Knights, wooden spooners in 2021, are now on the cusp of an NRLW dynasty, losing only two of 18 games across their two premiership seasons.
Their latest title came despite significant roster turnover in the off-season, and confirms the first back-to-back titles, either men’s or women’s, in Newcastle club history.
Newcastle defeated Gold Coast 24-18 in the NRLW grand final on Sunday afternoon
Tamika Upton (pictured) was the hero for the Knights at Accor Stadium
On the back of Lauren Brown’s passing game, Jaime Chapman scored the second hat-trick of the Titans’ NRLW history to help Gold Coast to an 18-12 lead in the second half.
Gold Coast dominated the territory battle all day, starting prop forwards Shannon Mato and Jessika Elliston leading the charge, and looked resolute enough on the goal-line to ride their way to victory.
But that was before Upton clicked back into gear, just as she did to help the Knights score three tries in seven minutes before halftime.
With 10 minutes to play, Upton stepped past her rival fullback Evania Pelite for a try that levelled the scores and made the Titans nervous.
Just as the Knights appeared primed to line up for a game-winning field goal, Upton kicked down the right side on the last tackle.
She burst through the defensive line and past Chapman to ground the ball for the game-winning try.
The pulsating match also had two painful-looking hair-pulling incidents that resulted in penalties.
The try closes the book on Gold Coast’s finals fairytale.
There were two nasty hair-pulling incidents during the spirited showdown
The Gold Coast couldn’t manage the fairytale finish after finishing last in 2022
After finishing last season at the bottom of the ladder, they stormed into the grand final with an upset defeat of the Sydney Roosters and had the chance to win the first premiership trophy in Gold Coast’s sporting history.