REPORT | Newcastle Knights 16-25 Wests Tigers

Wests Tigers top 8 hopes are still alive after they toppled the Knights in gutsy effort in front of 18,561, at McDonald Jones Stadium.

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MATCH DETAILS

From the Kick-off Ken Sio put the Knights under pressure with his kick going out on the full, with regular kicker Kalyn Ponga delegating his kicking duties due to his ankle injury. Off the ensuing set the Tigers received a penalty and Esan Marsters put them ahead 2-0.

Russell Packer then went over for his first try this season, spinning through some soft defence 10 metres out and going over beside the posts. Marsters added the extras for an 8-0 lead after 15 mins to the Tigers. Five minutes later, Mitchell Pearce put a beautiful cross field kick contested by Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sione Mata’utia, with Mata’utia taking the catch over Kevin Naiqama, and crashing over out wide beating Elijah Taylors’ tackle attempt. The kick unsuccessful, leaving the score 8-4.

With the Tigers on the attack minutes later, Newcastle were again penalised for ruck infringements with the Marsters again adding the extras, to put them 10-4 ahead. Ken Sio didn’t learn from his first mistake, and off the kick-off again sent the ball almost 5 metres over the dead ball line to give the Tigers another penalty on halfway. Luckily for Sio, no points came off the following set, but the Knights were putting themselves under further pressure.

Luke Brooks was looking good, guiding the Tigers around, his kicking game was on. Pearce picked up another Brooks grubber, and while making a half break, Pearce threw a wild pass over Pongas’ out reached arms with the ball landing back with the Tigers 5 metres out from the Knights line. The constant pressure then turned into frustration, and another infringement by Ken Sio landed him in the sin bin for 10mins. Marsters added the extras via the penalty and the Tigers lead was extended to 12-4.

The Tigers couldn’t capitalise any further while Sio was in the bin, though once returned, Brooks dummied and stepped back inside to go over himself with a well deserved try. The kick wasn’t successful, and the Tigers went int the break leading 16-4.

The second half didn’t start well either for the Knights, with Pearce coming off early with a quad injury, and ten mins in, Brooks again looked outside then stepped back in, then threw a lovely pass to Farah, for a nice try beside the posts. The kick successful, taking the Tigers out to a 22-4 lead and looking like they would go on with the game.

To Newcastle’s credit they didn’t give up, and a try to Ponga in the 59th minute making the defence look silly with his amazing step, and Sio adding the extras brought the score back to 22-10. Minutes later Aidan Guerra with a hard run and carrying two Tigers on his back crashed over beside the posts, with Sio again adding the extras, all of a sudden the Knights were within striking distance 22-16 with 15 minutes remaining.

The Knights put the pressure on, but the Tigers defence was good, and with Brooks icing a field goal with 5 mins to play, and then another ruck infringement by the Knights providing another 2 points, the Tigers came away from the Hunter with the 2 points.

FOUR POINTERS

Luke Brooks vs Nathan Cleary

Luke Brooks was again the best on ground for the Tigers, with his kicking, and passing to precision, and his running game providing a try and a try assist. The talk in the news has been not if, but when Nathan Cleary arrives, how will that impact Brooks. With Marshall on one leg most of the night, Brooks let his game do the talking, and has had a break out year to date.

Newcastle building for 2019

The Knights were their own worst enemy on Friday night, but the ground work from coach Nathan Brown is clear, and with Ponga moving into the halves, when Pearce went off, the Knights were still dangerous in attack and put on two tries.

Tigers still a chance for the Finals

The Tigers need to win all their remaining games to give themselves any chance of making the eight this season. They have a tough four rounds coming up with the Raiders next week, who put on 48 points against them earlier this season.

Completions won the game

The Tigers 80% completion rate, verse the Knights 68%, courtesy of 13 errors, provided the Tigers a leg up to topple the Knights, after another close game between these two teams earlier this season went the way of the Knights.

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THE RESULT

Newcastle 16
Tries: Sione Mata’utia, Kalyn Ponga, Aidan Guerra
Goals: Ken Sio 2/3

Wests Tigers 25
Tries: Russell Packer, Luke Brooks, Robbie Farah
Goals: Esan Marsters 6/7
Drop Goals: Luke Brooks 1/1

SQUADS

Newcastle Knights

1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Cory Denniss, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 20 Jack Cogger, 7 Mitchell Pearce (c), 16 Josh King, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Daniel Saifiti, 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12 Mitch Barnett, 13 Aidan Guerra

Interchange:  8 Herman Ese’ese, 14 Jamie Buhrer (c), 15 Chris Heighington, 17 JJ Felise

Wests Tigers

1 Moses Mbye, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Corey Thompson, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Michael Chee Kam, 13 Elijah Taylor (c), 17 Matt Eisenhuth

Interchange:  12 Luke Garner, 14 Alex Twal, 15 Suaso Sue, 18 Jacob Liddle

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