2023 NRL Round 22: Knights 28, Raiders 6

Andrew Pelechaty reviews Newcastle’s decimation of a disappointing Canberra side.

Result

Newcastle Knights 28
Tries: (4) Kalyn Ponga 6th; Greg Marzhew 19th; Dominic Young 32th; Tyson Gamble 41st
Goals: (6) Kalyn Ponga 8th, 12th, 21st, 33rd, 43rd, 55th

Canberra Raiders 6
Tries: (1) Jordan Rapana 51st
Goals: (1) Jarrod Croker 52nd

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Report

It was a historic day at Bruce Stadium, with the Raiders’ NRLW side playing their first game in Canberra. There were also two Viking Claps: one for the women and one for the men (even Kirk Van Houten would approve of that). The Raiders NRLW side put the home crowd in a good mood with a 24-14 win over the Sydney Roosters; could the men (wearing a replica NRLW jersey) continue the momentum?

An early Kalyn Ponga break was danger signs for the Raiders, and the Knights soon converted that into points, with Ponga scoring in the seventh minute.

The Raiders made an unforgivable error in the 12th minute, when they failed to kick a goal-line drop-out before the shot clock expired, handing Ponga an easy penalty goal and an 8-0 lead.

Newcastle made it 14-0 with a beautiful cut-out pass from Ponga, tipped on by Bradman Best, with Greg Marzhew scoring in the left corner. Marzhew and Best celebrated the try by dancing to a pretend boombox (with the footy as the boombox).

Dominic Young made it 20-0 shortly before half-time, with the Knights exposing Canberra’s diabolical left-edge defence as Young scored in the right corner.

While the half-time break may have given Canberra some hope, Tyson Gamble scored to quickly shut the door.

Canberra at least avoided a duck at home, spreading the ball – and showing some width – with Jordan Rapana scoring in the right corner.

While that was the end of the tries, Young had an epic celebration for his disallowed try (due to a foot in touch), slam dunking the footy over the crossbar.

The Knights earned their fourth straight win to sit just one point outside the top eight. With a run home against The Dolphins, Canterbury-Bankstown, South Sydney, Cronulla-Sutherland, and St George Illawarra, Newcastle could sneak into the finals.

As for Canberra, they’re still fifth despite one of their worst losses this season (and a -78 differential). They’ll need to quickly find form before they play the Wests Tigers next Sunday – the Tigers showed against South Sydney that they’re no pushover, and will remember their controversial loss to Canberra in Round 14.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Kalyn Ponga (Knights)
2 – Dane Gagai (Knights)
1 – Phoenix Crossland (Knights)

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