The Newcastle Knights advanced to the knockout stage of the Auckland Nines with an impressive 21-16 win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday morning.
While it was a seesawing game with plenty of exciting football from both sides, the Knights were deserved winners in the end thanks to several big plays from the likes of Danny Levi and Robbie Rochow.
It was the Tigers who scored first points two minutes into the match when a dropped ball from Sione Mata’utia resulted in Josh Addo-Carr galloping straight through the Knights defence.
It didn’t take long for the red and blues to strike back though, the outstanding Levi barging past his markers to make the score 4-4.
Joint captain Rochow did his best impression of a hooker soon after when he scooped up a ball from dummy half to score beneath the posts. The bonus point plus a smart conversion from Brock Lamb saw the half-time score standing at 11-4.
Less than a minute into the second half Manaia Cherrington brought some parity to the score-line when he snuck his way over the line following a penalty conceded by Pauli Pauli.
With the score sitting at 11-10 the Knights found themselves pinned on their own line desperately repelling multiple sets from the Tigers.
All the momentum seemed to be against them, until Uate capped off an 80 metre set with a smash-and-grab try in the corner.
Two minutes later Jake Mamo followed up with a somewhat fortuitous try, Jaelen Feeney’s low grubber taking some wicked bounces to avoid the back-peddling Tigers defence.
The game wasn’t over yet though, Addo-Carr again burning the Knights with his pace two minutes from time to push the final score to 21-16.
Jake Mamo, Sione Mata’utia, Akuila Uate, Joseph Tapine, Brock Lamb, Korbin Sims, Tariq Sims, Danny Levi, Pauli Pauli, Pat Mata’utia, Daniel Saifiti, Jaelen Feeney, Tyler Randell, Robbie Rochow.