The Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights were defeated 40-24 by the Illawarra Cutters in a spirited match at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
The Knights got onto the score sheet early, Chanel Mata’utia making the perfect comeback from a long-term injury to score. Bryce Donovan converted, and two minutes later David Bhana barged his way over to further the Knights’ lead.
Halfway through the first stanza the Cutters looked to kick into gear when lock Siliva Havilli made a break through the middle to run 40 metres. Donovan came up with a crunching one-on-one tackle to stop a certain try though, and the Knights escaped.
There was no stopping the Cutters five minutes later though, as prop Hame Sele wound up to steamroll his way through the line and score. Levi Dodd converted to halve the Knights lead.
The Knights continued to make plenty of metres, but with eight minutes left in the first half the Cutters got over again via Sam Coster. Dodd converted, and then just before the half time siren winger Kiti Glymin scored to put the Cutters in the lead.
Early in the second half Knights centre Ryan Walker came desperately close to scoring when he beat three men with his footwork. Some close attention from a defender saw him spill the ball over the line though, and the Dragons raced up the other end for Dodd to score.
Knights' winger Aku Uate showed some speed when he broke the Cutters' defensive line, sidestepped a number of opponents and sprinted more than 50 metres to score in the 55th minute. Donovan added the extras to see the Knights now within just four points of the Cutters, 22-18.
Soon after, the Cutters capitilised on good field position with prop Shannon Wakeman powering over between the posts to score the team's fifth try. Dodd's kick from in front saw the side's lead stretch to 28-18.
The Cutters were in again when fullback Adam Quinlan drew his defenders to score on the right edge before Dodd converted the try from the sideline.
But the Knights weren't done scoring points. In the ensuing set, Uiti Baker carried a number of defenders with him to score under the posts. Bryce Donovan converted from in front.
In the game's final minute, Sam Coster burrowed under from dummy half to score before Shaun Nona this time kicked the conversion.
The Illawarra Cutters defeated the Knights 40-24.
Newcastle Knights 24 (T: C Mata’utia , Bhana, Uate, Baker; G: Donovan 4/4)
Illawarra Cutters 40 (T: Sele, Glymin, Coster 2, Dodd, Wakeman, Quinlan; G: 6/7)
1. Bryce Donovan, 18, Chane l Mata'utia, 3. Ryan Walker, 4. Pat Mata'utia, 5, Akuila Uate, 6. Kurt Aldridge, 22. Will Pearsall, 17. Uiti Baker, 14. Ben Stone, 21, Josh King, 30. Pauli Pauli, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. David Bhana. Interchange: 2. Mao Uta, 8. Luke Yates, 11. Bradie Smith, 20. Tama Koopu.
1. Adam Quinlan, 4. Levi Dodd, 3. Tanne Milne, 19. Kurt Mann, 5. Kiti Glymin, 6, Shaun Nona, 7. Drew Hutchinson, 8. Shannon Wakeman, 9. Josh McCrone, 10. Hame Sele, 11. Tyrone McCarthy, 12. Chris Lewis, 13. Siliva Havili. Interchange: 20. Sam Coster, 15. Jacob Hind, 16. Damien Sironen, 24. Eric Newbigging.