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Sydney Roosters prove their worth in win over Newastle Knights

The Sydney Roosters have applied pressure on NRL frontrunners South Sydney following their convincing win over Newcastle at Hunter Stadium.

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You can't keep them all, or so the saying goes. Nonetheless, over the past 25 years, the Newcastle Knights' record of fostering young talent has been as good as, or better than, most clubs in the NRL.

There have, of course, been the odd exceptions. Brett Kimmorley, Rodney Howe, Robbie Ross and Josh Perry all played for Australia and won grand finals after parting with their home-town club, although at the time, none were regarded as retention priorities.

Boyd Cordner might not have reached such illustrious heights but it seems only a matter of time.

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No nerves: Boyd Cordner celebrates his try. Photo: Getty Images

If, as expected, the 21-year-old back-rower develops into one of the game's superstars, the Knights will be left to rue the fact he slipped through their fingers.

The Taree-born youngster played two seasons in Newcastle's under-16s before the Sydney Roosters, recognising his raw potential, made an offer too good to refuse and which the Knights refused to match.

''I was with the Knights at the time and they were great to me,'' Cordner said on Sunday. ''I had a great coach in Garth Brennan … and we had a good team.

''I loved Newcastle, but I just saw an opportunity at the Roosters with Freddie [Brad Fittler] being the coach and they had an older forward pack at the time, so I thought I might have got my chance a bit earlier.'' Cordner still gets back to Newcastle when he can to visit his elder brother, Dane, who plays rugby union for Merewether.

On Sunday, the NSW Origin rookie returned to Hunter Stadium, in his 46th top-grade game, and gave Knights fans a first-hand glimpse of the one that got away.

In a devastating display, he scored a try from 30 metres out, made 136m in attack and 28 tackles.

Afterwards, he reflected on how he felt no nerves playing in Newcastle, despite a season-high crowd of 22,847, most of who were hoping to see a Novocastrian boilover.

''Really, it feels a bit like home,'' he said. ''I played a lot of school games here and it's pretty familiar surroundings, so it wasn't like weird or anything. It was actually pretty comfortable.''

Cordner's only regret was a hit-up that left another Taree product, Knights skipper Jarrod Mullen, needing treatment for a gash under his eye.

''I looked down and he had a massive cut,'' he said. ''I'm pretty good mates with Jarrod … my brother lived with him when he was playing S.G. Ball. Our families are pretty close, so I sort of felt bad. The cut on his eye was ridiculous and I said sorry to him.''

Cordner said the Roosters had prepared for ''a grinding game'' and were not disappointed by Newcastle, who were trailing 18-12 with seven minutes left when he scored.