The NYC Newcastle Knights scored a try seconds from time to beat competition heavyweights the Parramatta Eels 26-24 at Hunter Stadium on Monday evening.
In a see-sawing match that had both teams take the lead on multiple occasions, it was the young Knights who got the last laugh after a very late loss against the Tigers last weekend.
With the likes of Henry Penn, Tyrone Amey and Matt Soper-Lawler returning for the red and blues as well, it was a strong team performance that showed plenty of character and determination.
Five minutes in the Knights picked up a penalty just short of the line, and at the end of the following set halfback Hayden Herbert placed a cross-field kick for towering winger Soper-Lawler to score.
Five minutes later the Eels got their first opportunity when Kainoa Gudgeon dropped a bomb ten metres out. From the following scrum winger James Gammidge beat Soper-Lawler with his footwork to get over the line.
Soon after the Eels were over again via their other winger, Jermaine Mati-Leifi running off the hip of his centre to score. Michael Doolan wasn’t able to convert on the second count, the score 10-4.
With 13 minutes left in the first half the Eels made a similar mistake to the Knights when they dropped a kick just short of the line. In the following set Kainoa Gudgeon was the beneficiary, the winger collecting a short pass to dive over near the uprights.
The Knights looked in command, but three minutes before half time the Eels made another surprise attack when Mati-Leifi grabbed his second on the left edge to make the score 14-8.
It looked as though that would be the score going into the break, until Soper-Lawler gambled with a grubber that saw Penn score a 50 metre try. McNamara added the extras to make the scores even again, but it wasn’t until 13 minutes into the second half that that changed.
It was some great build-up play from Tom Starling that enabled interchange forward Zac Hosking to run over the line untouched between the uprights. McNamara converted to push the score to 20-14, but three minutes later the Eels again scored via winger Mati-Leifi.
With 14 minutes left on the clock prop Alex Twal made a break, running 30 metres to dive over the line. Doolan converted to make the score 24-20.
With eight minutes to play the Knights looked as though they might score again when Soper-Lawler made a break down the touchline, but he lost possession just short of the line.
The Knights kept their cool though, and 25 seconds from time Gudgeon found enough space to dive over in the corner and even the scores. McNamara had the pressure kick from the sideline to win the game and showed nerves of steel to steer it between the posts.
The final score 26-24 to the Knights.
Knights 26 (T: Matt Soper-Lawler, Gudgeon 2, Penn, Hosking; G: McNamara 3/5)
Eels 24 (T: Gammidge, Mati-Leifi 3, Twal, G: Doolan 2/4 )
1. Nick Meaney, 4. Kainoa Gudgeon, 3. Heath Gibbs, 22. Henry Penn, 5. Matt Soper-Lawler, 6. Jake McNamara, 7. Hayden Herbert, 8. Tyrone Amey (c), 19. Joe Morris, 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 11. Braden Robson, 12. Sam Stone, 13. Ryan Glanville. Interchange: 14. Zac Hosking, 15. Tom Starling, 16. Eddy Tuilotolava, 17. Jayden Butterfield.