NRL Round 23: Knights 30, Dolphins 28

Newcastle were looking for five straight victories when they opened the Perth double-header against the Dolphins.

Result

Knights 30
Tries: Kalyn Ponga 11th; Kurt Mann 35th; Jackson Hastings 53rd; Phoenix Crossland 58th; Greg Marzhew 69th
Goals: Kalyn Ponga 12th, 36th, 54th, 59th, 71st

Dolphins 28
Tries: Jamayne Isaako 23rd, 26th, 31st; Valyne Te Whare 49th; Connelly Lemuelu 73rd
Goals: Sean O’Sullivan 33rd, 50th; Jamayne Isaako 42nd, 74th

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Report

Heading into the game, the Newcastle Knights were looking for their fifth straight win, while the Dolphins were looking to keep their hopes alive to play finals football in their debut season.

Conditions at Perth’s Optus Oval provided the backdrop for a high-scoring contest, which was dominated by the Knights’ fullback, Kalyn Ponga, as they held on against the Dolphins by 30-28.

The Knights looked in control after Ponga scored the opening, but that changed quickly when Lachlan Fitzgibbon was sent to the sin bin for a hip drop on Jamayne Isaako. In the next seven-minute period, Isaako scored a quick-fire hat-trick as the Dolphins raced away to lead 14-6.

Kurt Mann’s try from close range before halftime, resulting from a turnover by Josh Kerr, saw the Knights reduce the margin to two points at the break.

Things didn’t start well for the Knights after the break, with Ponga kicking out on the full from the restart. When Tyson Frizell was placed on report for a high tackle, the Dolphins converted a penalty goal.

The Dolphins went out to a ten-point lead when Valynce TeWhare scored as a result of an overlap.

But the tide turned as the Dolphins tired, and Jackson Hastings put the Knights back in the game after breaking free from Kenny Bromwich’s tackle.

Ponga came into his own with a strong kick return, combining with Hastings and Fitzgibbon to send Phoenix Crossland over at 24-22. Greg Marzhew’s strike eight minutes from time saw the Knights heading towards victory at 30-22.

A penalty from the restart and sustained pressure saw the Dolphins draw within two points when Connelly Lemuelu scored from close range.

There was a chance for the Dolphins to steal the game after Bradman Best knocked on close to his line. However, Herman Ese’ese was penalized for holding a Knights player in the scrum. This may have just ended the Dolphins’ chances of a debut season finals berth.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Kalyn Ponga (Knights)
2 – Jamayne Isaako (Dolphins)
1 – Phoenix Crossland (Knights)

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