Round 16 of the NRL saw lopsided scores as Manly won a record 66-0 win over Canterbury, while Canberra was hammered 44-6 by Gold Coast.
Ponga's return to Newcastle would have been a welcome sight in Queensland. Queensland will rush Ponga into its line-up for State of Origin dead rubber July 14.
Valentine Holmes was reported for a crushing tackle on Ponga in the second quarter. This was a bitter pill to the Maroons.
Ponga left the field shortly after the incident.
Mid-season pick-up Jake Clifford from Newcastle, a former Cowboy like Ponga played a hand at four of the Knights’ seven tries. Mitchell Pearce, a vintage Mitchell Pearce, gave the Knights' attack the composure that it needed.
Two tries were scored by utility Connor Watson and Winger Dominic Young.
This victory ends the Knights' four-match losing streak and marks the Knights' first back-to-back wins this season. It also lifts them up to ninth place on the ladder.
This was the first year that the foursome of Clifford, Pearce and Clifford, as well as Jayden Brailey, the hooker, appeared together in the same match. Clifford missed most of 2020 due to an ACL injury.
Although Pearce and Ponga had not yet played together in this season's season, they combined to provide a glimpse of what might be for the Knights over the second half.
The Cowboys, however, were without Todd Payten as their coach. He was forced to be there from Townsville because he was self-isolated by COVID-19 restrictions.
After his team's disappointing performance in Newcastle, the rookie mentor might have to return to the drawing board. The team has now dropped to 10th on the ladder after losing three consecutive games.
Young was the one who set up both his setups. The first came at the hour mark, after a 50-metre line break. Young then turned in for his rookie flyer.
Watson finished the run late, but he showed his quick thinking by kicking across the field after Young had tapped back to Clifford.
Ponga made his mark in just four minutes. Holmes dropped a Clifford bomb on Young's hands, and Young found his fullback to support him.
Clifford played a key role in the first half. He denied Hamiso Tabuai Fidow a stunning long-range attempt minutes before intercepting a pass which led to Jacob Saifiti collapsing over.
Watson also won their third with a Clifford kick. He was also involved in a left side raid that saw Ponga score his second try and gave him a 22-0 advantage at halftime.
Manly recorded its biggest win in its history of 74 years, thanks to Tom Trbojevic’s hot streak in the flogging Canterbury.
Trbojevic has added another hat-trick in his list of accomplishments for 2021. Jason Saab claimed three more.
Reuben Garrick also set the Sea Eagles record of 30 points in a match, with two conversions and 11 tries.
This win was also the largest in the NRL's history, since Parramatta beat Cronulla (74-4) in 2003.
The Sea Eagles became the fourth team to score 50 points in three consecutive matches, surpassing Gold Coast and North Queensland in their previous starts.
This was their most dominant day.Updated Date: 03 July 2021, 11:23