Andrew Pelechaty reviews the final game of Super Saturday, with Newcastle playing North Queensland. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Kalyn Ponga (2, 26), Jacob Saifiti (13), Connor Watson (24, 76), Dominic Young (58, 67)
Goals: Jake Clifford (14, 25, 28, 69, 77)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
2 pts – Jake Clifford (Newcastle Knights)
1 pt – Dominic Young (Newcastle Knights)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
In a vital clash for two teams on the edge of the eight, Kalyn Ponga’s return (after six weeks out) paid immediate dividends for Newcastle: Dominic Young cleaned up a Jake Clifford kick, with Young offloading to Ponga. Clifford missed the conversion as Newcastle lead 4-0.
The Cowboys nearly hit back through The Call of the Hammer, with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow retrieving his own kick, tiptoed near the sideline, and grounded it. Unfortunately, Hamiso’s foot went out thanks to a last-ditch tackle from Clifford. It was arguably the best “non try” of the season.
Newcastle had a chance to capitalise on some Cowboys errors in their own territory, and did so when Jacob Saifiti barged over in the 13the minute. Clifford converted to give Newcastle at 10-0 lead.
There was some controversy when the Cowboys’ Murray Taulagi flattened Ponga after he’d offloaded. But, there no sin bin, send off, or even a penalty, just a restart. Newcastle looked to have scored soon after, when Young went over in the right corner, but it was ruled a double movement.
Newcastle extended their lead when Kurt Mann caught a Clifford bomb, then offloaded to Connor Watson. With their first choice spine back, Newcastle looked like a vastly improved team.
Newcastle extended their lead with Ponga scoring after some fast hands down the left, with Young going down the sideline and passing inside to Ponga. You had to feel for North Queensland, flying in and out for the game and with their coach Todd Payten unavailable due to a two-week self-quarantine, and assistant coach Dean Young filling in.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 22 North Queensland Cowboys 0Embed from Getty Images
After 13 scoreless minutes, Newcastle got a decent attacking chance when Holmes fumbled a bomb. The Cowboys Captain’s Challenged it, but it was unsuccessful, giving Newcastle a scrum 20 metres out from the Cowboys’ line.
Hymel Hunt came devilishly close to scoring, but he lost the ball. He challenged it and was successful, as Taulugi raked it out with two players in the tackle, but Newcastle couldn’t take advantage in the next set.
Ponga continued his incredible return with a big break from his own 30 to the Cowboys’ 20 before offloading for Young to score.
Young got his second try 10 minutes later off a Ponga cross-field kick close to the Cowboys’ line.
There was a late scare for Newcastle when Ponga was jammed in a crusher tackle, with Valentine Holmes put on report, which may put his Origin III hopes in jeopardy.
Watson made Newcastle fans happier with his second try off a beautiful inside ball from Mitchell Pearce. No doubt Knights coach Adam O’Brien would be thrilled keeping the Cowboys to nil.
It closed a bizarre Super Saturday, with Manly Warringah/Gold Coast/Newcastle 148 defeating Canterbury-Bankstown/Canberra/North Queensland 6.
Newcastle are now equal eighth could make a late surge towards September. The Knights will enjoy a round 17 bye before back-to back blockbusters against Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters.
As for the Cowboys, they stay in equal eighth, but have now lost three in a row.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 38 North Queensland Cowboys 0
to be advised
Match Review Committee
Valentine Holmes (Cowboys) – Dangerous Contact Head/Neck – Early Guilty Plea $1,350 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1,800 fine.