Newcastle Knights have recorded their third victory in the last two seasons with an upset 34-20 victory over Canberra Raiders at McDonald Jones Stadium.
KNIGHTS WIN IS A WIN FOR RUGBY LEAGUE
The incredible win by Newcastle Knights is just what rugby league needs right now considering the last couple of weeks where player transfers and off-field misbehaviour has ravaged our game.
Their win was their largest since beating Melbourne by 14 at AAMI Park on August 24, 2015.
The Knights deserved the win, playing with plenty of heart and courage after losing Jacob Saifiti in the first half with a neck complaint.
Coach Nathan Brown will be the first to admit it’s a small step in a long path back for the club and that today’s win should be celebrated loudly in the Hunter.
With a little bit of luck and better discipline they might stretch the other pre-season competition favourites next week in Penrith Panthers.
CANBERRA IN A SIMILAR PREDICAMENT
After ten rounds last season the Raiders had four wins, five losses and one draw. Following today’s loss they are four wins and six losses and will sit in tenth spot at the end of this round.
This game should provide them with a much needed wake-up call.
Not only did the Raiders make 34 missed tackles, they made twice the amount of errors of the Knights.
Their day summed up with a lack of urgency inside the final ten minutes after Elliott Whitehead lost the ball forward. They didn’t rush to the scrum to stop the clock.
Ricky Stuart has his work cut out with three losses on the trot and a tough next few weeks where they face Parramatta and Sydney Roosters.
NATHAN ROSS IN ORIGIN CONTENTION?
There will be names thrown around over the next week as to potential wingers with Panthers Josh Mansour still on the sidelines with the ACL problem.
With Tom Tbrojevic injured in Manly’s loss to Brisbane on Saturday night, it could be Newcastle’s Nathan Ross who fills the void.
He proved his finishing capabilities with a nice low dive towards the tryline for the Knights opening try. Ross also made the most ground for either backlines 139 metres gained.
A great effort at the right time of the season with representative honours up for grabs.
RAIDERS SPINE MUST IMPROVE
The Raiders late season success in winning ten straight last year was primarily due to their spine playing out of their skins.
It was very quiet afternoon for the big name players who play in those vital positions.
Jack Wighton had little or no impact on the game from fullback. He was unable to find any gaps in the Knights defence to do any damage.
Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer didn’t click. In particular Austin could be accused of trying too hard to inspire his side with one pass sailing way over the sideline. Today was a long way from his “Origin contention” best.
Josh Hodgson probably ended up the Raiders best alongside Elliott Whitehead.
Newcastle Knights 34
Tries: Sione Mata’utia 2, Nathan Ross, Joe Wardle, Peter Mata’utia, Brock Lamb
Goals: Brock Lamb 5
Canberra Raiders 20
Tries: Nick Cotric 2, Elliott Whitehead
Goals: Jarrod Croker 2, Aidan Sezer