Knights edged late by Warriors
The nib Newcastle Knights kicked off the 2017 season with a loss away from home against the New Zealand Warriors, but there were still plenty of positives to come from what panned out as a tight game.
While the Knights started strongly, the Warriors completely dominated for the 15 minutes before half time to pile on 20 points.
For the majority of the second half the red and blues were on top with three tries in quick succession, but a late four-pointer to Ryan Hoffman ensured that the home side came away with the win.
The scoring started in the tenth minute, when Brock Lamb placed a precise kick on the final play of the set to set up a tenacious Pete Mata'utia with a try.
Captain Trent Hodkinson converted to push the score to 6-0, and then made it 8-0 eight minutes later when HOffman was penalised ten metres out.
The Knights' first real error came up soon after as Jacob Saifiti fumbled the ball near the try line, and the Warriors raced up the other end in the following set to score via David Fusitu'a.
In the 32nd minute a spot-on pass from Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Scheck allowed Solomone Kata to find a gap and thread it through to push the lead to 10-8, although Johnson couldn’t convert.
Soon after Johnson was at the heart of things again, as he sent a precise kick across the field to Tuimoala Lolohea, who batted the ball back in for Fusitu'a to get his second.
Seconds from half time the spiral continued for the Knights, as Johnson offloaded near the line to give Fusitu'a his third.
Johnson then made a handy conversion for the Warriors to lead 20-8 at half time.
Back after the break, Warriors forward Simon Mannering was assisted from the field with a jaw injury, before Dylan Phythian taking a high ball on the line had to be carted off the field with a lower leg injury.
54 minutes in, a kick by Lamb rebounded on the foot of the Warriors to set up six more before Jack Stockwell barged through the pack to ground the ball for the four points.
With 18 minutes to go, an offload from Sione Mata'utia set up Nathan Ross for his first points of the season but Hodkinson couldn’t complete the conversion to level the match.
Soon after, a clever kick and pick up by Mitch Barnett did the trick before dishing off to Ross, who side stepped two Warriors to claim his second, the Knights leading 22-20.
But the Knights couldn’t contain the Warriors, Hoffman muscling his way over seven minutes from time.
Johnson converted, the Warriors winning 26-22.
Knights 22 (T: P Mata'utia, Stockwell, Ross 2, G: Hodkinson 2/4, P: Hodkinson 1/1)
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. Jacob Saifiti.