Canberra and Newcastle locked horns on a cold and drizzly Sunday afternoon at Campbelltown Stadium; with both teams undefeated heading into this clash it promised to be a fascinating encounter.
|1st||Try Bradman Best (Newcastle)||Newcastle 4-0|
|2nd||Goal Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle)||Newcastle 6-0|
|19th||Try Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle)||Newcastle 10-0|
|30th||Try Jack Wighton (Canberra)||Newcastle 10-4|
|32nd||Goal Jarrod Croker (Canberra)||Newcastle 10-6|
|38th||Penalty Try Enari Tuala (Melbourne)||Newcastle 14-6|
|39th||Goal Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle)||Newcastle 16-6|
|44th||Try Edrick Lee (Newcastle)||Newcastle 20-6|
|45th||Goal Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle)||Newcastle 22-6|
|50th||Try Edrick Lee (Newcastle)||Newcastle 26-6|
|51st||Goal Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle)||Newcastle 28-6|
|52nd||Try Nick Cotric (Canberra)||Newcastle 28-10|
|54th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Canberra)||Newcastle 28-12|
|57th||Try Josh Papalii (Canberra)||Newcastle 28-16|
|58th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Canberra)||Newcastle 28-18|
|79th||Try Bradman Best (Newcastle)||Newcastle 32-18|
|80th||Goal Tex Hoy (Newcastle)||Newcastle 34-18|
After enjoying all the plaudits and praise from their impressive victory over the Melbourne Storm, it seemed Canberra thought they’d just start up where they left off last week. But Newcastle, who were coming off an impressive performance themselves, had other ideas: they came flying out of the blocks to score before the Raiders had touched the ball. Last week’s two-try hero Bradman Best was again the man to cross the line for the Knights.
Kalyn Ponga, who put on the try for Best after a nice short ball, did it all himself for the Knights’ second try. After his forward pack got the defence on the back foot, Ponga used his speed and guile to slice through the Raiders’ defence and give the Knights a 10-0 lead.
Canberra finally woke up and started to get into the game; this led to last week’s hero George Williams putting through a nice kick for his halves partner Jack Wighton, who leaped above the pack to get the Raiders on the board. Wighton had endured a mixed start to the game, having kicked out on the full, and making a couple of handling errors.
Canberra would have been happy to go to halftime just four points behind after their slow start, but the Knights had other ideas as Edrick Lee won the battle for a high kick before off-loading to Best; his smart kick found Enari Tuala first to the ball in the Raiders’ in-goal. Tuala looked set to score before Wighton tackled him without the ball. After a short delay the Bunker ruled a penalty try, giving the Knights a 16-6 lead at the break.
Canberra needed to be first to score in the second half, but despite winning a ‘six again’ call on the fifth tackle of their first set, they couldn’t capitalise as Newcastle went to the other end of the field to score through Lee. Ponga converted from the sideline to give Newcastle a commanding 22-6 lead after 45 minutes.
The game seemed to be getting away from Ricky Stuart’s men after Lee again scored off a beautiful cut-out pass from Ponga, but the Raiders struck back immediately through winger Nick Cotric, after another pin-point kick from England half Williams. The comeback was well and truly on when Josh Papalii ran through a host of poor attempted tackles – with Croker converting it took the score to 28-18 with a quarter of the match still to go.
But that’s where the comeback ended for the Raiders; Newcastle held on stoutly in defence and iced the game fittingly with another Best try, pouncing on a loose Raiders pass to finish the game.
He might be only five games into his NRL career, but Knights youngster Bradman Best is already dominating in season 2020. After being a late inclusion last week where he scored two tries, Best was again amongst the tryscorers, crossing for another double. Coming up against Origin hopeful Curtis Scott, Best dominated him in a one-sided dual. With Blues’ coach Brad Fittler watching on, Best looks certain for a Blues jersey in the years to come.
Canberra Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Corey Horsburgh, 12. Joe Tapine, 13. Corey Horsburgh. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Jordan Rapana.
Newcastle Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Kurt Mann, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Aidan Guerra, 12. Sione Mata’utia, 13. Herman Ese’ese. Interchange: 14. Tex Hoy, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Tim Glasby, 17. Brodie Jones.