The Newcastle Knights were beaten 50-14 by the New Zealand Warriors at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
While the red and blues were well and truly in the contest in the first half with great tries to Sione Mata’utia and debutant Brendan Elliot, David Fusitua put on a finishing clinic for the Warriors in the second half to blow the score out.
With several late changes it was a tough day out for the Knights, but positive signs were shown from 18-year-old half Jack Cogger who set up two tries and was strong in defence with a tackling accuracy of 95 percent.
Four minutes in the Warriors looked as though they’d scored when Albert Vete found himself through the line and only had Dane Gagai to beat. He managed to steamroll the fullback with his massive frame and while it looked as though there could have been an obstruction in the build-up, the video bunker ruled a try.
Six minutes later the away side were over again, winger Fusitua finding enough space on the right edge to get over the line. Shaun Johnson missed the conversion to leave the score at 10-0, and soon after the Warriors coughed up possession 30 metres out from their own line.
While the Knights didn’t score from that opportunity, several sets later Cogger threaded Sione Mata’utia through a hole. The centre then proceeded to floor both Johnson and Tuimoala Lolohea with fends, and dived over for a try.
Five minutes later the Warriors scored a somewhat fortuitous try, Johnson’s grubber deflecting off Jake Mamo for the halfback to have a second bite at the cherry with a mazy run. In the end it was winger Manu Vatuvei who got over the line, and Johnson converted from out wide to make the score 16-6.
The Knights weren’t lying down though, and with 12 minutes to play in the first half Cogger put through a teasing grubber that debutant Brendan Elliot managed to ground. Trent Hodkinson converted to push the score to 16-12, but minutes from half-time the Warriors were over again when Bodene Thompson collected a short ball from dummy-half.
The Knights weren’t done scoring yet though, Hodkinson slotting a penalty goal seconds from halftime.
Nine minutes into the second half Fusitua grabbed his second out on the wing, and then soon after made it a hat-trick from a similar play. There was no stopping the outside back, as with 20 minutes to play he grabbed his fourth with another break. Isaac Luke converted to make the score 40-14, and then eight minutes later Solomone Kata picked up a four-pointer down the other flank.
Soon after Jake Mamo looked as though he might have scored a try when he chased down a grubber and grounded it, but video replays showed that he knocked it on, and the Warriors raced up the other end to score again via Vete.
Luke converted to make the final score 50-14.
Newcastle Knights 14 (T: S Mata’utia, Elliot, G: Hodkinson 2/2, P: 1/1)
New Zealand Warriors 50 (T: Fusitua 4, Vete 2, Vatuvei, Thompson, Kata, G: Johnson 5/7, Luke 2/2)