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Matt Hilder

Timana Tahu hasn't played competitive rugby league for over six months but the veteran back still has plenty of class left in those ageing limbs.     

That's certainly the consensus after Tahu performed strongly in a close 28-26 victory over the Newtown Jets in the NSW Cup ranks at Henson Park on Saturday.  

In his first match since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee playing for the Newcastle Yowies in the Koori Knockout in Raymond Terrace last October, the former Test and Origin star showed glimpses of his best in the narrow win.            

Coach Rick Stone was impressed with Tahu's effort, but admits he still has plenty of improvement ahead of him. 

"Timana went really well considering it was his first game for a long time," Stone says.  

"He said that his fitness struggled a little bit at times, but he did some good things and showed some class.

"I think in the next few weeks we’ll see a little bit more improvement from him.

"But it’s just great to see him back. 

"It’s been a long road for him and he has worked hard, especially being at that stage of his career it’s never easy to do.

"He went through some pretty dark days, but he has sorted it out pretty well and he has been really professional and put his head down and worked hard.

"It’s something he obviously wants to do and we are happy to help him with that."

While Stone was rapt to see Tahu back on the field, he was equally happy with a number of his players in what was the team's first win for seven weeks.   

"Chanel (Mata'utia) also made a comeback and it’s a positive that he got through the game unscathed," he says. 

"Matty Hilder was good, as was Michael Dobson and Pat Vaivai.

"Josh Mantellato also played a pretty big part in the game.

"He scored a couple of tries and kicked a few important goals." 

Stone says a strong foundation in defence was the key to Saturday's win over the Jets. 

It's a high standard he hopes his team can maintain in the coming weeks.   

"We haven’t been defending well enough to win games, but we tackled a lot better against the Jets," he says.

"We had plenty of desire and intent defensively and that made a big difference for us.

"In saying that we also did a few good things in attack as well.

"We probably changed a few things and it seemed to work okay.

"So I think we can build on it and get some confidence.

"We’ve got a few home games in the next few weeks and there will be an opportunity to win a couple there."

Newcastle will look to continue their winning form when they take on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday at the No.2 Sportsground in Newcastle from 3pm.  

Knights- 28 (T: Redman, Dobson, Mantellato 2, Elias; G: Mantellato 4/5).

Newtown Jets- 26 (T: David Harris, Samisoni Langi, Jack Siejka, Kurt Kara, Matt Evans; G: Sio Siua Taukeiaho 3/5).

Get your TICKET now and support your Newcastle Knights when they host the Cowboys at Hunter Stadium on Monday June 23. Gates open 4.30pm for NYC to kick off at 4.45pm before NRL at 7pm.