Lachy MacCorquodale reviews the Sunday afternoon clash between the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Enari Tuala (4, 38, 57), Bradman Best (7), Kurt Mann (18), Kalyn Ponga (65)
Goals: Jake Clifford (5, 8, 20, 51 – pen, 67).
Tries: Harley Smith-Shields (27), Josh Papali’i (46), Hudson Young (71), Emre Guler (79)
Goals: Jarrod Croker (28, 47, 72, 80)
Player of the Year Points
3 pts – Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
2 pts – Bradman Best (Newcastle Knights)
1 pt – David Klemmer (Newcastle Knights)
It was the perfect start by the Newcastle Knights who scored in the fourth minute through Enari Tuala, after the Knights shifted the ball to the left side of the field, with Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best combining, which gave Tuala space to run into. He had options on his inside but went himself and proved too big and strong for the Raiders defenders to stop.
It only took a few minutes before the Knights doubled their lead. Newcastle once again attacked down the left edge, as Ponga and Best combined once again, but this time it was Best who got the chocolates as he barged his way over a tackle close to the line.
The Knights continued their superb start with Kurt Mann joining Tuala and Best on the scoresheet as he contested a Jake Clifford bomb and was rewarded as he caught it in mid-air and grounded the ball as he landed to send a statement to the Raiders.
The Raiders finally responded through Harley Smith-Shields as Canberra shifted the ball right and fullback Jordan Rapana did a superb job holding the defenders up before he passed to Smith-Shields, which gave the winger enough room to score in the corner.
Canberra had plenty of opportunities to keep the Knights in their own half but failed to do so through their undisciplined play. These missed opportunities allowed the Knights to strike a devastating blow as Tuala scored his second try of the afternoon in the dying stages of the first half. The Knights shifted the ball left once again after a line break from Clifford. Best and Ponga combined again to set up Tuala’s try, the third try that both the left centre and fullback had been involved in.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 22 Canberra Raiders 6
The Raiders opened the scoring in the second term – as they needed to do – with Josh Papalii tucking the football under his arm and beating David Klemmer with some nice footwork to score next to the posts.
However, it would mostly be the Knights from here on in. Just moments after the Raiders try, the Knights were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and they opted to take the two, extending their lead to two converted tries.
As they did in the first half, the Knights continued to attack down the left edge and were rewarded once again as Tuala grabbed his third try of the afternoon as Ponga threw a brilliant cut out ball across the face of Best which found the winger in space: Tuala grounded the ball in the typical winger’s fashion.
The Raiders continued to drop the ball at the worst moments as they failed to fight their way back into the match; in the 65th minute Ponga put the Raiders to rest as he took on the defensive line on the first play from the scrum and was too hard to stop as he rolled across the white stripe to score the Knights’ sixth try of the afternoon.
Canberra managed to grab two late tries, but it was too little too late for the ‘away’ side. The two tries came through Hudson Young who capitalised on space after Jack Wighton made a line break, and the second came through Emre Guler who took advantage of a tiring Newcastle defence as he put some footwork on at the line to weasel his way into a gap and grounded the ball right on the line.
This was an important win for the Knights who are now sitting level with the Sharks, Dragons, and Raiders on 18 points as they battle for a spot in the final eight. On the other hand, the Raiders will be filthy with their performance this afternoon as a win would’ve taken them to seventh on the competition ladder.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 34 Canberra Raiders 24
to be advised
Match Review Committee
to be advised