The NYC Newcastle Knights beat the Canberra Raiders 29-28 at Hunter Stadium on Saturday morning in a game that went down to the wire.
Both teams played well in perfect conditions, but it was the Knights that lead at half time and eventually at full time too.
Jake McNamara was a highlight for the Knights in only his second game at five-eighth, scoring a try and placing several key kicks to control the tempo of the game late in the second half.
The first ten minutes of the game were a real arm-wrestle, with the young Knights slowly gaining dominance thanks to a glut of unforced dropped balls from the opposition.
The Knights finally got their points in the 11th minute thanks to a nice move down the right edge that was finished off by winger Fuaimamao Uta.
Brock Lamb's attempted conversion from the sideline was waved away, but five minutes later the fullback shrugged that off to play the returning Bryce Donovan through for a try. Lamb made no mistakes with his conversion this time, pushing the score to 10-0.
The Knights' defence had been strong but in the 23rd minute Raiders winger Lachlan Hurst raced down the left edge to score. Hooker Zac Woolford's kick from the sideline missed but his side struck again two minutes later when centre Cameron Booth found acres of space in the middle of the field to dive over. Woolford converted with his second chance, levelling the scores with 30 minutes played.
The Raiders looked to have scored again four minutes later when Lamb was stripped of the ball in his own in-goal area on a kick receive, but the referee ruled that the ball had been played forward by the Raiders.
It looked like the two teams would go into half-time with the scores locked, until five-eighth McNamara collected his own grubber in the 39th minute to score. Lamb again converted to give the home side a 16-10 lead.
Tempers flared at the start of the second half when Jack Cogger was tackled after passing the ball, and players from both sides rushed in. The referee gave the Knights a penalty however, and Lamb took it to the tee to extend the Knights' lead by a further two points.
Seven minutes later forward Luke Yates was penalised for a similar late tackle to the one executed on Cogger and the Raiders took full advantage by finishing off their set with a try to Lachlan Lewis. Woolford converted to leave the scores at 18-16, with half an hour left to play.
Danny Levi is known for picking his moments from dummy-half well, and four minutes later he did just that when he scooted over to plant the ball down with three markers clinging on. Lamb rushed the conversion from a just off centre and it sailed wide, leaving the score at 22-16.
That missed opportunity hurt the home side five minutes later when diminutive winger Jack Hickson caught everyone by surprise, breaking through the line to run 50 metres and score. Woolford slotted his conversion and suddenly the scores were even once again.
Hickson wasn't done yet though, as he left his markers for dead again in the 53rd minute to give Lachlan Croker an easy try. Woolford again converted to give the Raiders a six point lead.
What proved to be a turning point in the game came seven minutes later, when Ken Tofilau looked to have been held up in goal but the referee ruled that his tacklers were offside.
The Knights rushed up the other end to earn themselves a line drop-out via a clever McNamara bomb, and in the following set Tofilau latched onto another McNamara kick to score. Lamb made no mistakes with his conversion this time, bringing the scores even yet again with ten minutes left to play.
Two minutes later the Raiders came up with a critical error when their kick went out on the full, and suddenly the Knights found themselves starting a set 45 metres out. They weren't able to capitalise on it though when Lamb's field-goal attempt skewed wide from ten metres out.
With five minutes to go the Knights got another opportunity when the opposition spilled the ball 40 metres out. This time McNamara's attempted field-goal was shut down, but Josh King latched onto the ball and the Knights had another set up their sleeves. This time Lamb nailed his field-goal to push the score to 29-28.
With one minute to play the Raiders' Croker went for a field-goal of his own, but the Knights' defence closed him down well to effectively win the Round 13 game.
Newcastle Knights 29 (T: Uta, Donovan, McNamara, Levi, Tofilau, G: Lamb 3/5, P: 1/1 FG: 1)
Canberra Raiders 28
Lamb, Uta, Donovan, Robson, Tofilau, McNamara, Cogger, King, Levi, D Saifiti, Smith, Stone, Yates. Bench: Amey, Fepuleai, Apthorpe, Knott.