Resurgent Knights out to defy NRL history

Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS

Newcastle's playing group is riding high and has declared they can become the first NRL side to win the grand final from outside the top four.

The 32-6 defeat of Cronulla on Sunday was the Knights' eighth consecutive victory, the side's second-longest winning run behind only an 11-game stretch that included the 2001 premiership.

The latest success confirmed that in the opening week of the play-offs the Knights will host their first home final since 2006, making good on a goal set by coach Adam O'Brien in the pre-season.

It comes after Newcastle sat in the bottom four through 19 rounds, their finals hopes looking shot and O'Brien's job under threat.

But now, the Knights are setting their sights on winning it all.

If Newcastle beat 16th-placed St George Illawarra this weekend, no side in the NRL era will have ever come into the finals on a longer winning streak when finishing outside the top four.

"We're not just going into the finals to win one or two games," Knights five-eighth Tyson Gamble said.

"You want to want to go into the finals and go all the way.

"It's the belief Adam has instilled in us and we'd love to win it all."

On their winning streak, the Knights have toppled Melbourne, Cronulla, South Sydney and Canberra - any of whom they could meet again in the finals.

They have previously beaten top-four side the Warriors and come within a converted try of defeating premiership front-runners Brisbane and Penrith.

"I don't think many teams will be wanting to play us," said Knights winger Dom Young.

"I don't see why not (why we can't win the grand final).

"We're full of confidence and we've got a lot of belief in the group."

Injuries to their two most crucial players in attack, Kalyn Ponga and Jackson Hastings, have done nothing to dent the playing group's confidence.

Hastings has missed two consecutive games with an ankle problem but Newcastle are taking a week-by-week approach to his fitness.

Ponga went off with a shoulder injury against the Sharks and will not play the Dragons, but could return for week one of the finals.

But overcoming Souths and Cronulla without Hastings has left the Knights believing they could soldier on without Ponga if need be, with Dane Gagai or Lachlan Miller both replacement options.

"You can sort of get a bit caught up with an injury when it's a key player like that," Gamble said.

"But it's not the attitude we have as a team, we've looked at the injury Jacko had, 'Cluney' (Adam Clune) came in and he really took charge of the team.

"Obviously with Kalyn leaving it's going to be massive shoes to fill but it's Origin player to Origin player. 'Gags' is an awesome option for us to drop back there."