The Newcastle Knights NSW Cup side has stumbled to their fifth consecutive defeat following a 34-12 loss to the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
In a fast-paced match, the Knights struggled to contain a potent Warriors side led by the class of NRL regular Kevin Locke and skilful fullback Steve Waetford.
Newcastle led 12-0 after just eight minutes but it was the New Zealand-based team that charged home on the back of 34 unanswered points.
On a positive note for the Knights, veteran forward Clint Newton made a successful return from a bicep injury.
The men in red and blue, who are now in eighth position on the ladder, will look to hit back when they take on the Wests Tigers next Saturday from 3.00pm.
Newcastle made a number of positional prior to kick-off.
Newton was named in starting back-row in his comeback match from a bicep injury.
The veteran's return pushed James Elias to the centres to replace Pat Mata'utia.
The Knights had a dream start to the match when hooker Travis Waddell barged over from close range after just three minutes.
Michael Dobson added the extras from close range to give the men in red and blue an early 6-0 lead.
Newcastle was full of running in the opening exchanges and crossed again in the next set via back-rower Tyler Randell.
Randell ran 40 metres to score after a brilliant face ball from prop Pat Vaivai.
Dobson added the extras for a 12-0 advantage after just eight minutes.
Warriors’ winger Jarrod Tua had a great opportunity to hit back for the Warriors but he dropped the ball with the try-line wide open.
Tua then went from villain to hero three minutes later when he scored in the left corner to reduce the Knights’ lead to 12-6 after 14 minutes.
This try sparked the Warriors into action, who dominated possession for the next 10 minutes.
The Kiwi-based side couldn’t convert though as a result of the Knights' defence.
Newcastle lost interchange forward Ben Tupou to injury after 25 minutes. Tupou was only on the field for three minutes.
The Warriors reduced the Knights’ advantage after 27 minutes following an impressive team try finished off by fullback Steve Waetford
Tuimoala Lolohea added the extras to lock the scores at 12-all with 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Warriors’ momentum continued minutes later when interchange forward Upu Poaching barged over after a series of passes.
Lolohea converted from in front to give the home side a 18-12 lead with eight minutes left in the first half.
The Warriors had a great chance to extend their advantage on the stroke of halftime but couldn’t crack the Knights’ defence.
The home side went to the break with a slender 18-12 lead.
The Warriors maintained their dominance in the opening stages of the first half, controlling possession with their big forwards and pinpoint kicking game.
This enabled winger Tua to grab his second try after 45 minutes to give the New Zealanders a comfortable 22-12 lead with 32 minutes remaining.
The Warriors extended their lead after 55 minutes following a third try to Tua.
Lolohea converted from out wide to give his side a 28-12 lead with 19 minutes left on the clock.
Newcastle fullback Ross was over the line to score after 63 minutes but the try was denied due to obstruction.
The Warriors capped off a strong performance when Locke did it all himself to score with 10 minutes remaining in the match.
Lolohea added the extras to give the home side a dominant 34-12 lead with seven minutes left. The Warriors maintained this advantage for the remainder of the match to seal a comfortable victory.
NSW CUP TEAMS
Ross, Tuha, Wiliame, Elias, Ikinofo, Minto, Dobson, Likiliki, Waddell, Vaivai, Newton, Randell, Hilder. Interchange: Redman, Horwood, Hartin, Tupou.
Waetford, Tua, Kata, Peyroux, Locke, Tuimavave, Lolohea, Gubb, Sio, Peteru, Ki, Faitala-Mariner, Palavi. Interchange: Papalii, Poaching, eVete, Bhana.
NSW CUP SUMMARY
Newcastle Knights 12 (T: Waddell, Randell, G: Dobson 2/2)
Warriors 34 (T: Tua 3, Waetford, Poching, Locke, G: Lolohea 4/5)