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VB NSW Cup Review: Windsor Wolves 36 Newcastle Knights 32

Prelim Final v Newcastle Knights – Sun 29/9 @ Leichhardt Oval

6 IN A ROW SENDS THE WOLF PACK OFF TO THE BIG DANCE

Windsor as they did with the Sharks two weeks ago, secured their first win of the season over the Knights when it mattered most to secure their spot in the NSW Cup Grand Final with a 36-32 win at Leichhardt Oval today. In a game where both teams scored 6 trie…s, it was the goal kicking of the competition’s most accurate goal kicker, Wes Naiqama that ultimately prevailed over the competition’s most profilic point scorer Josh Mantellato.

Both teams made key changes with Windsor bringing in Penrith Panthers under 20’s hooker Josh Tangitau into the 17 while Newcastle were boosted by the inclusion of Will Smith although Kevin Naiqama was withdrawn due to first grade duties the previous night.

Newcastle through their big pack, dominated the early exchanges & it was no surprise to see them opening the scoring in the 12th minute when half Adrian Davis went on a searching diagonal run towards Windsor’s right edge before finding Chanel Mata’utia with a brilliant cut out ball & the winger went over the top of Matt Moylan to score in the corner to give the Knights a 4-0 lead.

Windsor hit back soon after on the back of a fortuitous but correct decision when a Chris Adams pass from a Knights scrum win cannoned directly into referee Zbigniew Przeklasa-Adamski, giving the Wolves the scrum feed 10m out. From the scrum, a left step from Blake Austin left Timana Tahu grasping at air as the five eighth strolled over underneath the posts & with Naiqama’s conversion Windsor led 6-4.

Newcastle soon regained the lead on the back of some repeat penalties conceded by Windsor which allowed Korbin Sims to score from close range, with Mantellato’s conversion giving Newcastle a 10-6 lead after 27 minutes.

Despite Newcastle dominating field position & having nearly 60 percent possession, Windsor seized the initiative scoring twice in the closing minutes of the half. An Austin cross field kick to Mantellato’s wing on the last tackle allowed the Flying Fijian Porter, Eto Nabuli to amazingly outleap his opposing winger to score next to the posts. Their second try in as many minutes, came after quick hands to the left allowed Moylan to lay on the short ball for Daniela to steam onto & score virtually unopposed under the posts, giving Windsor an unlikely 18-10 halftime lead.

Newcastle came out the quicker in the second half, when a Mitchell Frei linebreak deep into Wolves territory allowed Panthers-bound five-eighth Will Smith to put in a cross-field kick on the next play for Siuatonga Likiliki to score in the right corner to put Newcastle back in the game at 18-14.

Windsor restored their 8 point lead with 30 minutes remaining, after interchange back-rower Tom Eisenhuth went on a searching diagonal run towards Newcastle’s left edge before producing a loose offload which was luckily regathered by Naiqama who showed great vision in passing out wide to his unmarked winger, Travis Robinson who did the rest to go 35m & score in the right corner.

From the kickoff, the referee controversially ruled Sam Anderson lost the ball when TV replays suggested a strip in the tackle. In the ensuing set, Davis went to the line & double pumped before providing the perfect short pass for Peter Mata’utia to storm on to & score out wide from close range. Mantellato’s conversion brought the scores back to 22-20.

Windsor were very unlucky not to extend that lead, when a touch judge ruled a long ball batted on by Daniela to Nabuli was forward when TV replays suggested otherwise. Windsor was denied again minutes later when Anthony Cherrington initially juggled the ball before batting the ball back to Austin who threw the long pass for an unmarked Nabuli only for the referee to call knock-on against Cherrington, again a harsh call when viewed on the TV replay. But the Wolves persistence eventually paid off after a rare play the ball error on the Knights 20m line invited Blake Austin to produce a show & go to slice thru the Knights right edge to score from close range in the ensuing set, giving Windsor a 28-20 lead mid-way through the second half.

Windsor opened up the biggest lead of the game when some quick hands out right allowed Vaipuna Tia Kilifi & Moylan to combine & send Robinson in for his second try of the game from close range.  Naiqama’s conversion from in front gave the Wolf Pack a match winning 34-20 lead with just ten minutes remaining.

To their credit the Knights, depleted in numbers after injuries forced both Chanel Mata’utia & Tahu from the field, regathered from the short kickoff before Peter Mata’utia scored out wide despite what appeared to be a blatant double movement with the ball carrier’s arm touching the ground whilst tackled. Mantellato’s conversion reduced the gap to 34-26, before Windsor stretched the lead once more minutes through a Wes Naiqama penalty after Toka Likiliki was placed on report for a late tackle on Tia Kilifi.

Another forced error from the kick-off resulted in a try in the final minute to Zane Tetevano who barged over underneath the posts from close range to provide the final score of 36-32.

Sam Anderson continued his amazing 2013 season with a deserved man of the match award from Fox Sports with Blake Austin surely not far behind after another stellar performance in attack.

In the other final played today, the minor premiers, Cronulla Sharks set-up a grand final showdown with the Wolf Pack at ANZ Stadium next Sunday with kick-off at 1:30pm after they notched up an impressive 38-6 win over the hapless North Sydney Bears.

Final Score: Windsor 36 (Tries: Austin 2, Robinson 2, Nabuli, Daniela Goals: Naiqama 6/7) def. Newcastle 32 (Tries: P Mata’utia 2, C Mata’utia, Sims, S Likiliki, Tetevano Goals: Mantellato 3/5 Davis 1/1)

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