It was billed as a David and Goliath battle.
But at least the real David was able to fire off a shot.
An injury-hit Newcastle never looked likely as an Anthony Milford masterclass inspired NRL leader Brisbane’s 53-0 rout at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
The prodigious young playmaker and tackle-busting winger Corey Oates grabbed try scoring hat-tricks as the Broncos showed no mercy to a depleted Knights in front of a 30,394-strong crowd.
As if to add insult to injury, man of the moment Milford iced Brisbane’s fourth straight win with a cheeky field goal on full-time.
Brisbane (6-1 record) reclaimed the NRL ladder lead by scoring 10 unanswered tries, shutting out a team for the second straight week following their 26-0 victory over the Dragons.
The Knights arrived in town as overwhelming underdogs and their odds plummeted further when they lost backrower Jeremy Smith (knee) before the kick-off.
And their luck did not change on the field.
At one stage debutant Joshua King was the only man left on the visitors’ bench after they lost five eighth Jarrod Mullen, winger Nathan Ross and hooker Tyler Randell by early in the second half.
Milford posted a try double and set up Oates’ second four-pointer for Brisbane to go 22-0 by halftime.
Beyond the scoreline, the Broncos also proved emphatically that reports of internal division following an argument between players over the discovery of a “rat” in their ranks were false or at least inconsequential.
As dominant as they were, they were still shy of their 71-6 club record win over the Knights at the same venue in 2007.
Even so, master coach Wayne Bennett’s men inflicted plenty of pain on his former side in a match he would have been forgiven for taking personally.
Bennett’s perceived lack of a succession plan at the Knights in 2013 had been blamed for Newcastle’s current woes in the Sydney press.
On a horror night for Newcastle, halfback Trent Hodkinson hardly figured in a blow to his NSW Origin chances.
Time and again he took poor last tackle options as his kicking game misfired.
Newcastle have now lost nine of their past 11 games against Brisbane.
To make matters worse, prop Pauli Pauli was placed on report for a high shot on opposite Joe Ofahengaue.