The Newcastle Knights will look to get back on the winners list as they host a St George Illawarra Dragons, fresh off their first win for the season on Sunday Night Football.
The St George Illawarra Dragons have once again done it the hard way to earn their second win for the season. The victory this time coming in the second period of extra time. It was a match that saw both sides fail to capitalise on their dominance and come up with some strange and unlikely last tackle options. Both sides settled into the match but the first half belonged to Kalyn Ponga, returning to the position he made his Knights debut. The fullback chimed in on a few back line plays and showed his class to cut the Dragons right side defence into pieces. Edrick Lee and Hymel Hunt were the beneficiaries of the brilliance of Ponga but it was the Dragons forwards that began to gain the upper hand. The Knights tries were on the side of a try to Tyson Frizell, stripping the ball clean from Mitchell Pearce’s hands to crash over under the posts.
The Knights began the second half with a two point advantage but looked rather disorganised. Their attack failing to come together once again and only capable of producing two points for the half from a penalty conversion. The Dragons were finding road up the middle but failed to turn it into points. There were a few timing issues that resulted in some errors and an unlucky call on a Corey Norman pass out to Jordan Pereira that was called forward. The Dragons finally cracked the line off a nice pass and turn of pace from Dufty. His winger Ravalawa caught the ball and showed some great strength to crash over. Normal time couldn’t separate the teams as both playmakers had attempts at field goals. This continued into the first period of extra time but just as a draw seemed likely, Corey Norman stepped up again, like last week, to kick the match winning field goal and give the Dragons their second one point win in as many weeks by 13-12.
The Knights made a big call this week to return Kalyn Ponga to fullback after starting the year at five-eighth. His performance showed exactly why he came close to winning the best player in the game award. Ponga’s return to the back helped ignite the Knights attack and should see the Knights gain more consistency.
Unfortunately, the Knights were cruelled by some inconsistent organisation of the game. They came up with a few disappointing options and mistakes when deep in the Dragons territory and it has been a common theme since their first round win. The Knights have failed to put many points on the board this year, a fact that they will look to fix up as we head into the next part of the season.
DRAGONS QUICK OFF THE LINE
The Dragons line speed was a feature throughout the entire match. Led by skipper Cameron McInnes, the Dragons players were keen to get up into the face of the Knights big men and halt their momentum. But the pressure was let down by the right edge defence, which offered some poor structure for the Knights to take advantage of.
TAKING THEIR OPPORTUNITIES
The Dragons almost let another match slip by. Despite gaining the upper hand in the match, the Dragons can’t quite seem to capitalise and show a ruthless side. While they’ll be happy to have scrapped another victory, they’ll be looking to take their opportunities as their form begins to improve. The team certainly needs to show a killer instinct if they wish to go deeper into the season.
Newcastle Knights 12
Tries: Edrick Lee, Hymel Hunt
Goals: Kalyn Ponga 2/3
St George Illawarra Dragons 13
Tries: Tyson Frizell, Mikaele Ravalawa
Goals: Tim Lafai 2/3
Drop Goals: Corey Norman
Newcastle Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. Mason Lino 7. Mitchell Pearce (c) 8. David Klemmer 9. Danny Levi 10. Tim Glasby 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Sione Mata’utia 13. Mitchell Barnett INTERCHANGE: 14. Kurt Mann 15. Aidan Guerra 16. Daniel Saifiti 17. Josh King
St George Illawarra Dragons: 1. Matt Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Euan Aitken 4. Tim Lafai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. James Graham 9. Cameron McInnes (c) 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Jacob Host 12. Tariq Sims 13. Blake Lawrie INTERCHANGE:
14. Jeremy Latimore 15. Zac Lomax 16. Korbin Sims 18. Tyson Frizell