Elinya Chenery reviews the Friday evening clash between Newcastle and the Gold Coast …
Newcastle Knights 38
Tries: Edrick Lee 5 (19, 23, 40, 64, 73), Dominic Young 3 (10, 27, 78)
Goals: Tex Hoy 2 (25, 78), Anthony Milford (75)
Gold Coast Titans 12
Tries: Alexander Brimson (52), Greg Marzhew (57)
Goals: Jamayne Isaako 2 (53, 58)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
It was a dreary Friday evening in the heart of Newcastle for a match up that most punters were considering a coin toss dilemma. Despite the bottom-half-of-the-table nature of this clash, the Knights vs Titans Round 16 game ended up with records broken and more than one player given marching orders.
It was all Newcastle in the opening stages of the match, with the Titans only entering Newcastle’s half after 10 full minutes of play, whilst the home team had essentially set up camp on the Gold Coast’s tryline through multiple repeat sets.
The first points of the game would come through towering winger Dominic Young on Newcastle’s right edge, following a somewhat awkward yet well placed cross-field kick from halfback Adam Clune. A bobble off the kick from the Gold Coast defence left a barrelling Young to claim the try from the loose ball.
Despite the Titans eventually making their way into Newcastle’s 20 after almost as many minutes of play, the Gold Coast outfit were their own worst enemy with error after error beginning to creep into their game. One such error – in the form of a knock on from Brian Kelly – would be compounded by a penalty for holding down, which piggybacked Newcastle along the field for their second try of the night. A slick passage of play featured passes from both halves, going from Adam Clune to Anthony Milford, who threw a cut-out pass to Edrick Lee to put the ball down in the corner in a classic leaping fashion.
Clune and Milford controlled the game skilfully with their kicking, not allowing the Titans a look in, and once again the Gold Coast team came up with an error – on their first set with the ball following their second conceded try no less. It was this knock on only 20 metres out from their own line that saw the Titans’ defence crumble once more, with Lee running in for his second of the evening virtually uncontested following an overlap and well-timed pass from Clune.
With a completion rate of 89% to Newcastle compared to the Gold Coast’s 55% after 31 minutes of play, the Titans were barely making it out of their own end in the lead up to half-time, a fact that was exploited by Newcastle’s Enari Tuala after taking an intercept on the halfway mark from a Titans’ fifth tackle offload. Despite Tuala not quite making it to the try line before being dragged down by his opposite #4 Patrick Herbert, veteran playmaker Clune kept his cool and put in a perfectly weighted kick to the waiting arms of Lee, who ran over on the half-time siren for his hat-trick .
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 22 Gold Coast Titans 0Embed from Getty Images
The opening of the second half of play begin in the same disappointing way that the first half ended for the Gold Coast, with the QLD side knocking on in just their first set following the resumption of play. A 10th, but necessary, error for the Titans followed shortly after: in which a knock down saved an almost certain Newcastle try, before the home side lost their Captain’s Challenge and gave the Gold Coast their first scoring opportunity.
A sloppy passage of play saw a deft kick from Patrick Herbert fail to be grounded by no less than three Newcastle defenders, with Tanah Boyd’s put down for the Gold Coast’s first points only thwarted after a lengthy Bunker review determined Toby Sexton had narrowly knocked on in the in-goal.
A contentious knock on call against Newcastle only minutes later would finally allow a glimmer of hope for the Titans, with Alexander “AJ” Brimson coming up with some solo magic for a line break and 40 metre dash to the goal line, out-stripping replacement fullback Tex Hoy to get the Gold Coast on the board.
Whether it was a rousing halftime speech by Justin Holbrook, or a sense of complacency creeping into the Knights’ game, the momentum had well and truly shifted towards the middle third of the game. Crossing for a second Gold Coast try in just five minutes, Greg Marzhew received a silky pass from Boyd to give the Titans a chance for a comeback. With Newcastle sitting on 1/5 successful conversions, Jamayne Isaako’s pinpoint kick from the sideline brought the Titans back to a 10-point difference, and it was well and truly game on.
The Titans then lost their Captain’s Challenge after questioning a penalty for an escort, but escaped narrowly with a 20 metre restart after an Anthony Milford kick went dead in-goal. After a good run down the field, the Titans then once again knocked the ball on in a 50/50 call, and subsequently gave away a penalty in the scrum to take Newcastle back up onto the attack.
A cross-field spread saw Lee plant the ball down in the corner in what may be the most contentious try of the season. An initial on-field decision of “no try” by referee Chris Butler was overturned by The Bunker after an agonisingly long review period, in which they concluded Lee’s right hand was mere centimetres in the air, as opposed to making contact with the touch line as originally ruled.
With the predicted rain finally pouring down, tensions boiled over in the last 10 minutes of the match, with Gold Coast’s Jarrod Wallace being sent off for a dangerous tackle on Simi Sasagi (to which Wallace immediately apologised to), which set off an all-in scuffle. Newcastle’s David Klemmer was then sent to the sin bin for his involvement in the melee.
With both sides playing with 12 men, Newcastle appeared to have one mission: get Lee to five tries. They succeeded in the 73rd minute of play, in which Tex Hoy sent a lofted pass to Lee in the corner. This try saw Lee become Newcastle’s outright all-time highest try scorer in a single game.
Not to be outdone by his fellow winger, Young ended the evening on a high note for the Knights, when he made a skilful pick up of a loose ball on his own 10, and ran the length of the field to grab his hat-trick.Embed from Getty Images
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 38 Gold Coast Titans 12
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Edrick Lee (Knights), 2 pts – Dominic Young (Knights), 1 pt – Adam Clune (Knights)
Follow Nothing But League on Facebook.