Despite starting the match on fire, the NYC Newcastle Knights were beaten 34-24 by the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A combination of errors and defensive fragility saw the result slip away from the young red and blues, although plenty of players had strong individual games.
A returning Jacob Saifiti was phenomenal, making 186 metres from 16 runs. Hooker Nick Newman was a workhorse in the middle as well, making 38 tackles and coming up with several strong kicks.
The Novocastrians had a dream start to the game, the Raiders’ Zac Masters dropping the ball in the very first play only 20 metres from his own line. While the Knights didn’t score from that opportunity, two repeat sets soon after ensured enough pressure for back rower Sam Stone to get over the line.
Seven minutes later it looked as though the Knights had found more points when Jake McNamara threw a flick pass for Jayden Butterfield to get over the line. The Raiders defence did well to hold him up in-goal though to get out of jail.
Soon after the Raiders bounced back well and truly against the run of play, winger Harry van Dartel stepping his way through the Knights’ defence to run 40 metres and score. Zac Woolford missed the conversion, but with 21 minutes played the Raiders scored again via van Dartel.
Despite their domination in possession the Knights were on the wrong end of an 8-6 scoreline, and it got even worse in the 28th minute as the Raiders scored their third via Jack Murchie.
Three minutes later the Raiders again breached the Knights’ defence, fullback Thomas Cronan collecting a flick pass to wrestle his way over the line despite some close attention from Stone. Woolford converted to make the half-time score 20-6.
The young Knights got back to their attacking ways early in the second half, Cory Denniss stepping up to dummy-half in the 43rd minute to send Brayden Musgrove over the line. McNamara kicked brilliantly to convert from the sideline, and then several minutes later Ken Tofilau offloaded for Henry Penn to score beneath the uprights and make the score 20-18.
The Raiders weren’t done yet though, forward Daniel Dole barging his way over ten minutes later. Six minutes later winger van Dartel made it a hat-trick, getting over the line out wide to make the score 32-18.
Next up to score was Hayden Herbert, the Knights halfback chasing down a McNamara kick to get the four points behind the uprights. McNamara converted to reduce the home side’s lead to eight points, but with two minutes left on the clock Woolford kicked a penalty goal to make the final score 34-24.
Knights 24 (T: Stone, Musgrove, Penn, Herbert G: McNamara 4/4)
Raiders 34 (T: van Dartel 3, Murchie, Cronan, Dole, G: Woolford 4/6, P: Woolford 1/1)