Knights win on golden point in season opener
The nib Newcastle Knights fought hard for a 19-18 win over the Manly Sea Eagles at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday evening.
The Knights kicked it off early thanks to a Kalyn Ponga try and despite a penalty stricken Manly, it was locked up at half time before a nail biting second half that concluded with a golden point decider.
A high shot on Kalyn Ponga in the first minute got the crowd roaring but it spurred the youngster on as he grabbed the ball 20 metres out and crashed through three defenders to score.
Ponga lined up for the kick and converted his own try to see the Knights take the early lead, 6-0.
Eight minutes in Manly hit back as Jorge Taufua finished it off on the left side before Daley Cherry-Evans added the extras to level it up, 6-all.
It was end-to-end football for the next 15 minutes as both sides displayed some impressive defence before finally some heroic work from Knights hooker Slade Griffin, who from dummy-half rolled his way across the line 30 minutes in.
Ponga two from two, nailed the conversion to put Newcastle into the lead, 12-6.
Just before half time, big man Shaun Lane charged through next to the posts for Manly’s second and with a Cherry-Evans conversion, scores were locked at 12-all in the break.
In the second stanza Manly staged a perfect pass out wide to Akuila Uate but Ponga applied the pressure to see the winger drop it before being grounded.
With several offloads going their way, Sea Eagles centre Brian Kelly came up with the goods and crashed over under pressure. Manly took the lead, 16-12.
In the 60th minute came Lachlan Fitzgibbon’s signature roll to drive his way to the line for four points. Ponga made no mistake to boot the conversion and put the Knights in front by two, 18-16.
Luck didn’t go Newcastle’s way after Mitch Barnett picked up a dropped ball near the line and despite crossing over, the Bunker ruled insufficient evidence on the grounding.
With three minutes until the final siren, Manly received a penalty 35 metres out and Cherry-Evans decided to take the kick to try and level the scores. He nailed it and scores were locked at 18-all to take the game into golden point.
Three minutes into overtime, Cherry-Evans took his chance with a field goal but swung it wide, before Mitchell Pearce did the same down the other end and he too missed.
Second half into overtime Cherry-Evans took another stab at goal but there wasn’t enough pace before finally Pearce got perfect position 20 metres out as the Knights sealed their first win of the 2018 season in stunning style.
Knights 19 (T: Ponga, Griffin, Fitzgibbon G: Ponga 3/3, FG: Pearce 1/1)
Sea Eagles 18 (T: Taufua, Lane, Kelly G: Cherry-Evans 2/3, PG: Cherry-Evans 1/1)