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Photo: Paul Barkley / Melba Studios

The Newcastle Knights started their 2015 season in the best way possible on Saturday afternoon, showing plenty of grit and endurance to run out 24-14 winners over the New Zealand Warriors.

Kurt Gidley was scratched due to hamstring tightness, Sione Mata'utia moving into fullback and Beau Scott assuming the captaincy.

Tyler Randell was a highlight for the Knights in only his second NRL match, scoring a try and making plenty of productive runs from dummy-half.

The Warriors had the Knights pinned back in their own territory for much of the opening minutes until Akuila Uate burst through the middle and ran 50 metres, only to be brought down metres from the line.

The Knights weren't to be denied though, Uate off-loading to Dane Gagai to score in the right corner.

Tyrone Roberts was forced from the field after a head knock and so Randell took to the tee for a challenging kick from the sideline. The Aberdeen junior didn't disappoint, boosting the score to 6-0 with ten minutes played.

The Warriors continued to press hard but the Knights were solid in defence, Randell making an outstanding tackle on Bodene Thompson metres from the line.

The Knights kept threatening in attack, Robbie Rochow showing some nice footwork to punch through the line and feed Jarrod Mullen.

The Warriors did well to close down the five-eighth and the Knights were again denied a good scoring opportunity.

The Warriors scored their first try on the back of a Shaun Johnson 40-20, hooker Thomas Leuluai managing to ground the ball with three Knights clinging on.

It ended up an eight-point try, with Roberts placed on report for his part in the tackle. Johnson able to convert both kicks to make the score 8-6 with 12 minutes to play in the first half.

The Warriors continued to build up steam, Tuimoala Lolohea breaking down the right flank only for Uate to cross over from his own wing and deny him 10 metres out.

The Knights returned serve up the same wing through Joey Leilua, the towering centre charging within metres of the tryline only to be hauled out of play.

New Warriors recruit Ryan Hoffman looked to have scored with less than a minute until half-time and video replays showed that he had, despite the efforts of Scott to hold him up. Johnson again converted to make the half-time score 14-6.

The Warriors came flying out of the blocks early in the second half and things didn't get any better for the Knights when James McManus was forced from the field due to a suspected broken nose.

Soon after David Fa'alogo was sin-binned for an infringement in the ruck.

The Knights clung on, but couldn't form any cohesive attack of their own until Gagai finished off a neat play down the right to bag his second. Roberts converted from out wide, pushing the score to 14-12 with twenty minutes to play.

McManus returned to the field but the Knights were still nervy in defence, Hoffman almost making it through to score his second.

The Knights refused to take a backward step though, and Randell scored his first NRL try. Roberts added the extras to make the score 18-14 with thirteen minutes to play.

The Warriors continued to threaten in attack, Chad Townsend seemingly through in the 71st minute only for Roberts to bolt out of nowhere and haul the five-eighth down.

It was proving to be a nervy finish to the match, Gagai intercepting and making an 80 metre burst only to be pulled down short.

The energy levels of players on both sides were starting to flag, but it was the Knights who proved to be the sharper team when Rochow forced his way over on the left. Roberts again converted successfully, pushing the score to 24-14 with five minutes left on the clock.

The Knights continued to push for a bigger lead but the Warriors held on to keep the final score at 24-14.


Knights 24 (T: Gagai 2, Randell, Rochow, G: Randell 1/1, Roberts 3/3)
Warriors 14 (T: Hoffman, Leuluai, G: Johnston 2/2, P: Johnston 1/1)