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Knights record gritty win over Manly

In another close encounter, the nib Newcastle Knights edged out the Manly Sea Eagles with a 18-12 win at Lottoland on Friday evening.

Despite a poor possession rate and 12 men on the field after Daniel Saifiti was sin binned late in the first half, the Knights kept their composure to hold Manly to within two-points at half time before it was the brilliance of Kalyn Ponga to seal the deal with a precision pass to Nathan Ross for the try and the win.

The visitors had an early stab at the line as Jack Cogger tried to thread a kick in-goal, but it was caught up and Manly gained possession.

Manly had their opportunity with a dropped ball from the Knights 20 metres out, before Lachlan Croker almost crashed his way to the line. Thanks to some desperate defence from Aidan Guerra, the bunker ruled Croker lost control and knocked on.

13 minutes in and it was deja vu down the other end as Kalyn Ponga crossed over for Newcastle, but hot on his heels Manly's Tom Trbojevich forced the error and the 20-year-old dropped the ball over the line to be denied the points.

From left to right, back from injury, Connor Watson came up with an impressive play as he snuck through a gap and rolled over Croker to plant the ball on the green for the first try of the evening. Ken Sio took the kick, but he couldn't convert, and it was a 4-0 lead to Newcastle.

24 minutes in, Api Koroisau put a kick in the air to see Sea Eagles centre Dylan Walker sprint his way past Nathan Ross and Cogger to ground the ball for their first try. Daley Cherry-Evans added the extras and it was Manly in the lead, 6-4.

Minutes later Cherry-Evans broke free and crossed over, but it was pulled back and the bunker ruled an obstruction by Shaun Lane on Knights forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon to deny the four points.

Play was stopped as Croker went down with a knee injury and had to be escorted from the field before Daniel Saifiti was sin binned for impeding play and the Knights were a 12-man outfit.

Fortunately, a dropped ball from Marty Taupau got the Knights out of trouble and again a drop from Manly five minutes after was the Knights saviour.

But scrambling determination from the visitors kept Manly scoreless at the back end of the first half to head to the break with a two-point lead to the Sea Eagles, 6-4.

In the second, Manly were quick to get on the board via Lane who made a dash for the line and crossed over, which stretched the home side's lead to 10-4.

A poor possession rate hampered the Knights effort to get near the line, but they were fortunate for a few errors that crept into Manly's game.

Finally came some action for the Knights in the 58th minute, as Slade Griffin crashed through Manly's pack and muscled his way to the line. This time Sio didn't miss and the conversion was successful to lock the scores at 10-all.

A penalty five metres out was a blessing for the Knights as Sio stepped up to take the kick just right of the posts and nailed it to put Newcastle in front 12-10 with 14 minutes remaining.

It was a mirror image down the other end as a penalty saw Manly also opt for the kick and Cherry-Evans again levelled the score line to 12-all with just over 10 to go.

Minutes later a mistake came from Shaun Kenny-Dowall with an incorrect play the ball, but gritty defensive work saw the ball back in red and blue hands.

With five minutes to go, the Knights launched themselves back in front with a massive play by Ponga to deliver the ball to Ross, who glided through a big gap to score his first try for the season. Sio made sure and kicked his second for the night to see the Knights lead, 18-12.

The Knights held off a desperate Manly to record their second consecutive win and fifth for the season with a 18-12 victory over the Sea Eagles.


Knights 18 (T: Watson, Griffin, Ross G: Sio 2/3, PG: Sio 1/1)
Manly 12 (T: Walker, Lane G: Cherry-Evans 1/2, PG: Cherry-Evans 1/1)