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2021 NRL Round 15, Knights 10 Warriors 6 – Report

Brad Inger reviews the Knights vs Warriors clash in Newcastle. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Knights 10

Tries: Lachlan Fitzgibbon (29), Brodie Jones (75)

Goals: Jake Clifford (50)

Sin-Bin: Lachlan Fitzgibbon (33)

Warriors 6

Tries: Euan Aitken (24)

Goals: Reece Walsh (26)

Sin-Bin: Ben Murdoch-Masila (78)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Jake Clifford (Knights)
2 pts – Mitchell Pearce (Knights)
1 pt – Tohu Harris (Warriors)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

The match kicked off in poor conditions, with both sides affected and trading errors in the early stages. The New Zealand side’s discipline was a concern, giving away several penalties, but Newcastle could not capitalise on the field position they were gifted, losing the ball on the Warriors try line. Rookie Reece Walsh added another highlight to his reel, snatching a bomb and almost running all the way before being stopped just before the line; another error from the Warriors saw that opportunity squandered. Both sides traded sets, with neither able to gain the upper hand until a Knights dropped ball saw Euan Aiken scoop it up and run the length of the field for the first points of the match. The visitors then elected to let the kickoff bounce, which saw the Knights tackle Leeson Ah Mau inside the in-goal area. Newcastle wasted little time, scoring not long after the dropout when Mitchell Pearce threw a short ball to Lachlan Fitzgibbon, who powered his way over the line. However, Fitzgibbon went from hero to villain a few sets later when he was sent to the bin for contact with the head in a controversial call, with Kodi Nikorima falling just before the tackle. With an extra player on the field, the New Zealand side started to show promise on attack, running up the field with ease and playing second-phase football. They came close to scoring at the end of the half, but Newcastle’s defence held firm and dragged Marcelo Montoya over the sideline to end the first half trailing 6-4.

HALF-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 6 Newcastle Knights 4

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2nd Half

The Warriors successfully attempted a short kickoff to start the second half and got deep into the Knights red zone, but a poor last tackle option let the Knights off the hook. After a pedestrian set from the Knights, the Warriors were back at it but once again struggled with their last tackle plays, with Sean O’Sullivan unable to get a kick away. Newcastle then surged up the field before testing the New Zealand sides back three with a massive bomb which saw the Knights regather the ball before the Warriors managed to scramble and stop the home side on the last tackle. Both sides started to play some exciting attacking football despite the wet weather, with both teams coming close to scoring on several occasions. Newcastle then kicked a monster bomb at Walsh, who knocked it on before Roger Tuivasa-Sheck picked the ball up in an offside position; this saw Jake Clifford level the scores with a penalty goal. It looked like momentum had swung in the Knights favour as they forced a repeat set, but the Warriors managed to earn a penalty from the drop out when the Knights allowed the ball to go over the sideline. The game then settled back into a battle in the middle of the park, with both teams traded sets and making errors. The visitors earned themselves a repeat set, but Newcastle defended well and defused a wayward grubber. Clifford came to the rescue again with another mammoth kick, which Walsh took out, handing the home side a set deep in Warriors territory, they were unable to score, but they earned a repeat set. They threw everything at the Warriors, but their defensive line held firm. The New Zealand side went surged up the field, aided by a penalty against Jacob Saifiti for a high shot; however, they let themselves down again with a lacklustre last tackle play. With the clock ticking, the Warriors attempted two field goals through Walsh, with the first being deflected and the second drifting to the left. Newcastle then charged up the field after a break by Enari Tuala; they then shifted the ball out to the left to Brodie Jones to score in the corner, handing the home side the lead with three minutes remaining. The New Zealand side had limited minutes to steal the match and didn’t help their case with Tuivasa-Sheck dropping a kick and Ben Murdoch-Masila getting sent to the bin for a high shot. The Knights started playing one-out football and looked to have lost possession; however, they overturned the decision with a Captain’s Challenge and ended the match, earning the much-needed win competition points after a few more hit-ups.

FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 10 New Zealand Warriors 6

Injuries

Kurt Mann (Knights) – ankle
Bailey Sironen (Warriors) – failed HIA

Match Review Committee

Lachlan Fitzgibbon (Knights) – Grade 1 High Tackle Careless – Early Guilty Plea $1,700 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $2,250 fine.
Ben Murdoch-Masila (Warriors) – Grade 1 High Tackle Careless – Early Guilty Plea $1,700 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $2,250 fine.

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