The nib Newcastle Knights impressed with a strong team performance against the Canberra Raiders in a trial match at Seiffert Oval on Saturday evening.
Some silky attacks coupled with a flawless defensive attitude resulted in a final score of 44-0, and a half time difference of 30 points.
Danny Levi, Mitch Barnett and Dane Gagai all caught the eye, but it was the forward pack’s collective efforts that ensured the Raiders were limited to only a few try-scoring opportunities.
The Green Machine threatened early on with three repeat sets following kick off, but the Knights’ defence clung on and the red and blues raced up the other end soon after to nearly score.
A classy offload from Gagai gave fullback Dylan Phythian some space out wide, but a strong tackle saw him lose possession of the ball just short of the line.
A lively Nathan Ross was the next player to nearly score for the Knights in the ninth minute as he was brought up just short of the line, and then Brock Lamb earned the red and blues a repeat set from a kick soon after.
The continued pressure paid off with hooker Levi scoring in the very next set, the 21-year-old pushing over from dummy-half. Trent Hodkinson nailed the conversion to make the score 6-0, and nine minutes later the Knights nearly scored again when winger Ken Sio found some space down the right edge.
He was tackled just short of the line, but two plays later there was no keeping the Knights out as Pete Mata’utia slid across the turf to ground a grubber.
The Knights continued to pile on the pressure and five minutes later Jamie Buhrer showed plenty of pace to break through the Raiders line and score from 30 metres out. Hodkinson made it three conversions from three attempts to push the score to 18-0.
Six minutes from half time the Knights made it four tries, Sione Mata’utia running off the hip of Hodkinson to score. Hodkinson again converted, and then backed up a rampaging Jacob Saifiti minutes later to score a try of his own.
With the half time score 30-0 things were looking good for the Knights, and Dane Gagai and Jamie Buhrer were rested for the second stanza.
The Raiders took plenty of their bigger stars off as well, and with half an hour to play the Knights introduced the likes of Luke Yates, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Brendan Elliot, Chanel Mata’utia and Will Pearsall.
It was Elliot that scored the next try of the match in the 59th minute, Levi again doing well around the ruck to set the winger up.
Five minutes later the Knights continued their dominance when Pearsall put Chanel Mata’utia over for a try, and then closed out the game with a try to Sio late on to make the final score 44-0.
Knights 44 (T: Levi, P Mata’utia, Buhrer, S Mata’utia, Hodkinson, Elliot, C Mata’utia, Sio, G: Hodkinson 5/5, Lamb 2/3, Pearsall 0/0)
1. Dylan Phythian, 2. Ken Sio, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Peter Mata’utia, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Josh Starling, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Jamie Buhrer, 13. Mitch Barnett. Interchange: 14. Luke Yates, 15. Jack Stockwell, 16. Sam Stone, 17. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 18. Brendan Elliot, 19. Will Pearsall, 22. Josh King, 23. Jacob Saifiti, 24. Chanel Mata’utia.