The Newcastle Knights luckless run against Mounties in the NSW Cup this season continued on Saturday following a 50-30 defeat at GIO Stadium.
In a hard fought match, the Knights had their chances but couldn't contain Mounties and their strong attack in the second half. It's their third loss against Mounties in 2014, if you include the pre-season trial defeat back in February.
On a positive note for the men in red-and-blue though, halfback Michael Dobson, fullback Nathan Ross and centre Chanel Mata'utia all impressed in the loss.
Mata'utia was particularly impressive with two tries, while he never gave up in defence.
The Knights will now look to regroup for a crucial round seven clash against the Wyong Roos at the No.2 Sportsground in Newcastle next Sunday from 3pm.
Newcastle made a number of positional changes prior to kick-off.
Michael Dobson replaced Matt Minto at halfback, while Adam Cuthbertson and David Fa’aolgo dropped back from the NRL to take their place in the starting side.
Cuthbertson and Fa’aolgo’s demotion to the NSW Cup meant both Zane Tetevano and Chris Houston would line-up in the NRL side.
The Knights had a great start to the match following a Mounties mistake in the opening set of the match.
This gave the men in red-and-blue an invaluable chance to score, but centre Pat Mata’utia was ruled held up over the line.
It was the Mounties who opened the scoring in the 8th minute when centre Jeremy Hawkins finished off a slick backline move to score in the eastern corner.
Halfback Mitch Cornish converted from the sideline to give the home side an early 6-0 lead.
The Knights remained calm though and responded in the 12th minute following an impressive solo effort from fullback Nathan Ross.
Josh Mantellato added the extras from the eastern sideline to level the scores at 6-all after 15 minutes.
Newcastle hit the lead in the 17th minute following a pinpoint kick from Dobson for winger Chanel Mata’utia to score.
Mantellato converted fro next to the uprights to give the Knights an early 12-6 buffer.
Mounties hit the lead in the 25th minute following a try to replacement forward Clay Priest.
Cornish were unable to convert from in front though and the Knights held onto a slender 12-10 advantage.
This lead was short lived when Mounties winger Sami Sauiluma found open space down the western touchline, before passing on the inside for Priest to grab his second try in as many minutes.
Cornish missed the kick again, but it was Mounties in front 14-12.
The home side extended this lead in the 30th minute when Sauiluma proved too slick for the Knights’ defence.
Fullback Joey Bond failed to convert from the sideline, but it was Mounties in control leading 18-12 with 8 minutes left in the first half.
Newcastle returned serve on the cusp of the halftime break following some strong lead-up play by Dobson.
The former Raider made a surging run of 25 metres, before offloading for centre Brayden Willame to score in the eastern corner.
Mantellato kicked the conversion from the sideline to lock the scores at 18-all at the halftime break.
Mounties had a dream start to the second half when back-rower Mark Nicholls crossed after a Knights’ error.
Bond missed the conversion, but it was the home side with a slender 22-18 lead with 35 minutes left in the match.
Mounties extended their lead in the 48th minute via flying fullback Bond, who beat three defenders to score in the eastern corner.
Cornish missed the kick, but his side remained out in front 26-18 with half-an-hour remaining.
Newcastle could have been forgiven for going into their shell at this stage, but they refused to give in.
Ross personified this attitude at fullback and he was rewarded in the 53th minute when he scored under the posts following a strong break from Chad Redman.
Mantellato added the extras from in front to reduce the Mounties’ lead to 26-24 with 24 minutes left in the match.
The Knights’ momentum was quickly taken away just minutes later when Priest scored a soft try.
Cornish converted to give the home an eight-point lead with 19 minutes on the clock.
Mounties were on roll and added to this advantage in the following set after some fleet-footed magic from winger Gus Aiga.
Cornish was again faultless from in front for the home side to pull away with a 38-24 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Mounties were in complete control of the match and crossed again in the 68th minute via back-rower Jake Foster. Cornish added the extras from next to the uprights to give his side a commanding 44-24 lead with under 10 minutes to play.
Newcastle scored a late consolation try via Chanel Mata'utia and Mantellato converted to reduce the deficit to 44-30 with four minutes left.
Flying winger Sauiluma capped off a strong win for Mounties with a brilliant length-of-the-field try. Cornish converted to give the home side a comprehensive 20-point victory.
NSW Cup teams:
Knights: Ross, Mantellato, Willame, P.Mata’utia, C.Mata’utia, Randell, Dobson, Cuthbertson, Waddell, Vaivai, Fa’alogo, Siulepa, Hilder. Bench: Redman, Horwood, Elias, Likiliki
Mounties: Bond, Aiga, Hawkins, Pangai, Sauiluma, Place, Cornish, O’Donnell, McIlwrick, Learoyd-Lahrs, Foster, Nicholls, Setu. Bench: Cahalane, Coates, Goldsmith, Priest.
NSW Cup Summary
Newcastle Knights 30 (T: Ross 2, C Mata’utia 2, Wiliame, G: Mantellato 5/5)
Mounties 50 (T: Priest 3, Sauiluma 2, Hawkins, Nicholls, Bond, Aiga, Foster, G: Cornish 5/9, Bond 0/2)