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2021 NRL Round 12, Knights 18 Sea Eagles 10 – Report

Brendan Wood reviews the Newcastle Knights gritty 18-10 win over the Manly Sea Eagles. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Knights 18

Tries: Starford To’a (35), Sauaso Sue (40), Daniel Saifiti (78)

Goals: Tex Hoy (36, 40), Mitch Barnett (79)

Sea Eagles 10

Tries: Brad Parker (11), Jason Saab (26)

Goals: Ruben Garrick (27)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Connor Watson (Newcastle Knights)
2 pts – Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)
1 pt – Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

The Newcastle forwards came to play early and had the better of the opening exchanges. They had Manly on the back foot as the visitors struggled to get out of their own end. Despite having the better field position, the home side couldn’t take advantage on the scoreboard as Manly’s defence held firm.

With their first attacking opportunity, Manly showed the Knights how it’s done. Daly Cherry-Evans put Karl Lawton through a gap and Lawton passed outside to Brad Parker who crossed for the first try.

In the sets that followed, the Knights energy remained high as they fought to get the scoreboard level. Despite their best efforts, their completion rate continued to suffer as they made errors at crucial times. Manly weren’t much better as they too struggled to maintain possession.

Eventually the Knights poor handling came back to bite them. Lachlan Fitzgibbon knocked-on and Jason Saab scooped up the loose ball. With no one in front of him, Saab burnt the Knights cover defence for speed and raced 80 metres to score Manly’s second try.

Just five minutes later, Manly looked to have scored again through Tevita Funa. However, the bunker ruled Funa made high contact with Starford To’a in the lead up.

In the following set, Manly’s Sean Keppie was sent to the sin bin after hitting Phoenix Crossland late and high after he kicked. As a result, the Knights finally got themselves on the scoreboard. They spread the ball wide and Starford To’a beat the cover to score in the corner.

On the stroke of halftime, the Knights stole the lead when Connor Watson put Sauaso Sue over for a try under the posts, sending the home side into the break leading by two.

HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 12 Manly Sea Eagles 10

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2nd Half

Both sides lost a player each to HIA early in the second half, when Sauaso Sue and Zac Saddler clashed heads. During the first few minutes, the Knights couldn’t take advantage of the remaining time Sean Keppie was in the sin bin.

The next 15 minutes were an arm wrestle as both sides tried to gain the ascendency. Eventually it was a long kick from Daly Cherry-Evans that swung the momentum back in Manly’s favour. He pinned the Knights deep in their own half and forced an error out of the home side.

With their first attacking set of the half, Manly undid the work of Cherry-Evans when Sean Keppie made an error playing the ball. The following set was marred by controversy when Martin Taupau was sent to the sin bin for making slightly high contact with Danial Saifiti in a strong collision.

With Taupau in the bin, the Knights kept the pressure on Manly but struggled to execute in attack. The score remained 12-10 when Taupau returned to the field. After absorbing the pressure, Manly fired back when Tom Trbojevic threw a long ball to Ruben Garrick who broke the line.

Despite the long run from Garrick, the Knights scrambled back onside and shut down the Manly attack just short of the line. As the game moved inside the final 10 minutes, the score remained 12-10 with neither side willing to concede.

After a sustained effort from the Knights they, eventually landed the finishing blow to crush Manly’s hopes of a comeback. With two minutes left, Daniel Saifiti crashed over from close range to ice the game.

David Klemmer was sin binned in the final moments for high contact, but it didn’t make a difference to the result. Newcastle holding on to record an unlikely eight point win.

FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 18 Manly Sea Eagles 10

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Injuries

Zac Saddler – concussion/facial fracture
Tex Hoy – concussion
Lachlan Fitzgibbon – concussion
Tyson Frizell – ankle

Match Review Committee

Sean Keppie (Sea Eagles) – Grade 2 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 2 match ban.
Tevita Funa (Sea Eagles) – Grade 1 Crusher Tackle – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 2 match ban.
Tyson Frizell (Knights) – Grade 1 High Tackle Careless – Early Guilty Plea $1,350 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1,800 fine.
Martin Taupau (Sea Eagles) – Grade 1 High Tackle Careless – Early Guilty Plea $1,700 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $2,250 fine.
David Klemmer (Knights) – Grade 2 High Tackle Careless – Early Guilty Plea 2 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 3 match ban.

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