The NSW Cup Newcastle Knights were overcome by the Wentworthville Magpies with winger Honeti Tuha emerging the standout point scorer for Newcastle.
In a high stakes match that’s seen the Knights slip out of the top eight, Newcastle was missing a large portion of its mainstays who had been promoted to first grade to play the Brisbane Broncos on Friday evening.
Yet the young Knights who stepped up in their place were enthusiastic and determined to make the most of their opportunity in reserve grade.
The Magpies were the first to post points on the board when an offload from second rower Joseph Ualesi allowed their halfback to angle a chip kick to winger Jake Butler-Fleming who stepped back inside the Knights defenders to score.
Magpies kicker Beau Henry was unable to convert from the sideline.
The Knights looked fierce in attack but a forward ball slowed the momentum.
A penalty in the middle third cost the Knights with the Magpies working the ball quickly up the middle.
Another dangerous offload by Ualesi allowed Wentworthville to find numbers on the left edge, which put Halauafu Lavaka over for the side’s second try.
This time Henry sent the ball sailing through the uprights.
Soon after, a Magpies loose ball gifted the Knights’ valuable possession.
After a barrage down the right side of the field from the Knights’ forwards, Newcastle edged the ball in the opposite direction to Nathan Ross.
The fullback punted a grubber into the corner to Tuha, but the winger was unable to ground the ball before it bounced out of touch.
With the Magpies working hard on their line, winger Honeti Tuhu diffused defensive pressure when he collected an intercept and sprinted more than 90 metres up the left sideline to score the Knights’ first try just minutes before half time.
Cessnock based goal kicker Kerrod Holland made no mistake with the kick seeing the Knights head into the sheds trailing four points, 10-6.
The first 20 minutes of the second stanza was an arm wrestle between the sides with both struggling to control the ball in stages.
With pressure building again through the Magpies' attack, the Knights showed power in defense pushing the opponent's winger out of play.
In the ensuing play, the Magpies were penalised for a tackle on fullback Nathan Ross with the Knights opting to take the penalty goal.
Holland’s successful kick for the Knights narrowed the Magpies’ lead to 10-8.
Again penalties cost the Knights' chances and allowed the home team valuable time with the ball.
Before too long, a well timed pass from Magpies’ halfback Henry past a decoy runner put centre Vai Toutai through a hole to score.
Henry added the extras to take the score to 16-12 with six minutes remaining.
Yet the Knights weren’t done yet. Back to back unforced Magpies errors saw the Knights back in their third.
A succession of quick cut out balls worked the ball out to the left wing again to see Tuha ground it effortlessly in the corner.
Holland’s kick this time curved too wide leaving the score 16-12.
Desperate to make the most of the momentum with six minutes on the clock the Knights dominated possession until the final siren, but were unable to overcome the Magpies and were defeated 16-12.
Wentworthville Magpies 16 (T: Butler-Fleming, Lavaka, Toutai; G: Henry 2)
Newcastle Knights 12 (T: Tuha 2; G: K Holland 1/2; P: 1)