The NYC Newcastle Knights were beaten 30-22 by the Sydney Roosters at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon, conceding two tries in the final three minutes to relinquish their well-earned lead.
Considering their subpar outing last week against NYC cellar-dwellers the Dragons, this performance against the fourth-placed Roosters was full of courage in defence and composure in attack.
Unfortunately for the young red and blues though, they were unable to maintain defensive composure late in the game and capitalise on so much good work.
The Knights scored first points in the eighth minute when Brock Lamb made a clever pass for Bradie Smith to break through the line and dive over. Lamb added the extras, but from there on in the Roosters applied plenty of attacking pressure with repeat sets from line drop-outs.
The prolonged defence from the Knights on their own line finally showed in the 21st minute when Richard Skelton stormed over. Latrell Mitchell's attempted conversion went wide, but in the following set the Roosters scored again when Joey Lussick finished off a break through the middle.
Mitchell made no mistakes with his conversion this time, pushing the score to 10-6.
The young Knights built up some pressure of their own via a repeat set five minutes later, and soon after lock Luke Yates was put through a hole to score. Lamb again converted to put his side back in the lead.
Seconds before half-time a penalty to the Knights 40 metres out saw Lamb go for goal, but his kick went wide to leave the score at 12-10 when the siren sounded.
The Knights pushed themselves further in front six minutes into the second half when Fuaimamao Uta played Ken Tofialu through to score an easy try in the left corner. Lamb again did well to convert from out wide, but seven minutes later the Roosters struck back when winger Charlie Taylor evaded his marker to score.
Mitchell converted to push the score to 18-16, but it didn't take the Knights long to fight back after that.
Fullback Bryce Donovan stripped the ball from Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck on a kick return three minutes later to race twenty metres and score, and Lamb continued his impressive kicking record with another conversion to restore his side's eight point lead.
The Roosters pegged that back to two points again in the 61st minute when Skelton grabbed his second try thanks to some slack defending, and Latrell converted from straight in front.
Seven minutes later Donovan looked to have made a big error when he dropped the ball from dummy-half on his own line, but in the following defensive set debutant winger Matt Soperlawler came up with a massive hit to win his side back possession.
Unfortunately for the Knights with three minutes remaining the Roosters proved unstoppable, fullback Mitchell breaking through the line 50 metres out to score in the left corner. Soon after Skelton completed his hat-trick to seal his side a very late win.
Sydney Roosters 32 (T: Lussick, Skelton 3, Taylor, Mitchell ; G: Mitchell 4/6)
Newcastle Knights 24 (T: Bradie, Yates, Tofilau, Donovan; G: Lamb 4/4