Knights grind out win over Raiders
The nib Newcastle Knights edged out the Canberra Raiders 30-28 at GIO Stadium on Sunday evening.
The first 40 minutes saw a number of penalties conceded by both sides as the teams went points for points, while in the second stanza the Knights battled a heavy penalty count but were able to finish it off five minutes before the final siren with a Sione Mata’utia try.
Despite a dropped ball early and some heavy hits from a massive Canberra pack, the Knights regrouped to show some impressive defense on their own line.
10 minutes into the match, the red and blues got their first try thanks to a determined run from forward Aidan Guerra who crashed over the line after some clever movement by both his halves.
Kalyn Ponga added the extras to take the visitors into the lead, 6-0.
In the 15th minute it was the Raiders turn as they shifted play to the right side where Jordan Rapana dived over to plant the ball in the corner. Jarrod Croker booted the conversion to see the scores locked at 6-all.
Soon after Tautau Moga put the accelerator on to intercept a Raiders pass but was called off side by the referee. Croker decided to take the penalty kick and added two more to their tally.
A heavy tackle saw Joey Leilua carted off the field before Ponga found Lachlan Fitzgibbon, who ran it all the way to the line for his second try in two games. Ponga went two from two to see the Knights regain the lead, 12-8.
32 minutes in a brilliant bat back from Rapana while airborne landed in the hands of Elliott Whitehead as he crossed over, but the conversion missed and the scoreline was levelled up at 12-all.
A late hit on Mitchell Pearce minutes before halftime saw the Knights take the penalty kick, Ponga making no mistake, but down the other end Newcastle gave away another penalty on the siren.
Croker nailed the kick and the scores were again even, 14-all into the break.
In the second half there was another early penalty against the Knights before the Raiders were awarded a fresh set ten metres from the line following a knock on from Shaun Kenny-Dowall as he attempted to take the high ball.
Canberra made the most of it as Whitehead recorded the double to see them take the lead, 20-14.
But the Knights retaliated soon after with their own fresh set ten metres out before it was off-loaded to centre Tautau Moga, who glided through for his first try in red and blue. Ponga converted from in front to tie it up, 20-all.
It could have been another for Newcastle 52 minutes in with a clever grubber to Connor Watson on his way to the line, but the Bunker deemed it a no try as the replay showed the five-eighth couldn’t control the ball and dropped it over the line.
In the fourth penalty kick of the night, Croker booted it from out in front to put Canberra back on top by two points.
And the captain wasn’t finished there as he weaved his way to the line in the 62nd minute to add the home side’s fourth for the night. The Raiders centre converted his own try to extend their lead, 28-20.
Two minutes later Watson had another go as he picked up a pin-point grubber to record his first as a Knight. Newcastle edged within two points thanks to a successful Ponga conversion.
With seven minutes to go a penalty finally went the Knights way and a series of off-loads handed the ball to Mata’utia on the right side who stretched over for the try. Ponga unlucky this time with the conversion, the Knights took the lead, 30-28.
They held off a determined Raiders side to take their second consecutive win for the 2018 season with a 30-28 victory over Canberra.
Knights 30 (T: Guerra, Fitzgibbon, Moga, Watson, Mata’utia G: Ponga 4/5, PG: Ponga 1/1)
Raiders 28 (T: Rapana, Whitehead 2, Croker G: Croker 3/4, PG: Croker 3/3)