Classic Clashes: Round 11

2011 was a season to remember for most Knights fans.

Having finished outside the top eight in the previous season, it was a good feeling to be back in the winner's circle and perhaps one of the Club's sweetest victories of 2011 was against our rivals this week, the Gold Coast Titans.

Deemed the young bloods of the competition, the Titans had a mere 11 year's experience in the NRL, with some devastating losses against the Knights. Riding high after a solid win on the road against the Cronulla Sharks, Newcastle were chomping at the bit in front of a home crowd in Round 21.

In order to maintain a top eight position going into the finals, the Knights needed to submit a concrete performance against the Titans, and that is exactly what happened, as the red and blue defeated the Gold Coast, 50-20.

The Titans knew they had to start strong in order to kill any chance of losing six consecutive games, and with that in mind, they opened the scoring only four minutes into the match, as Greg Bird stripped the ball from Akuila Uate 10 metres from the Knights line.

A short pass to Scott Prince saw the Knights left edge drawn infield, and a perfectly timed pass to David Mead in the corner saw the Titans put down their first try to lead 6-0 just six minutes into the game.

However, Newcastle were quick to retaliate, as James McManus gave the cover defence the slip on the left edge, with a pass behind the decoy runner from Ryan Stig. Kurt Gidley successfully converted his first attempt of the evening, to level the scores at 6-all.

Gidley kept the ball rolling a few minutes later, with a dummy to Adam MacDougall to slip through defence, before he threw the ball back infield for Uate to score his ninth try of the season.

As the Knights sat comfortably in control of the game, Uate took the double with a fortunate bounce from an otherwise poor pass out of the halves, before Gidley increased the margin to 10 with a precision kick in the 24th minute.

A dropped kick from Uate in 32nd minute gave the Titans a repeat set on the Knights line, which Scott Prince capitalised on, to see the Gold Coast reduce their margin to four going into halftime.

The Knights came out of the break firing, as they shifted the ball out onto the left edge, with McManus able to beat Prince and sprint 40 metres down the sideline before he crossed over for his second. The margin was back to 10.

Cameron Ciraldo claimed his slice of the pie when opposite number Mark Minichello couldn't hold him short of the line in the 44th minute. The Knights increased their lead to 28-12.

The red and blue's right-edge continued to dominate in the 50th minute, with MacDougall able to capitalise on a poor tackle rate from the Titans, to slip through the grasp of four Titans and add another try to the Knights stat sheet and make it 34-12 with 30 minutes remaining.

The Titans were then rewarded with a glimpse of hope when Bird slipped past Keith Lulia and Junior Sa'u to put the Titans on the board for the first time in the second half. It was a winger's delight as Uate used his specialist footwork to get past the right-edge defence and collect the hat trick and the margin increased to 24.



Lulia and Sa'u made up for their defensive lapses in the next set as they created an overlap on the left edge before a 50-metre dash to the line for Lulia to claim the points.

A last-ditch effort from Bodene Thompson saw the Titans bump their points up into the 20's, but it was too little too late for the away team.

With less than two minutes remaining until full time, a grubber under the posts from Jarrod Mullen saw second rower Neville Costigan dive into the turf to seal the deal for the Knights. Gidley nailed the conversion before the buzzer; the Knights ahead by a 30-point margin to become the first team to crack a half century in the 2011 season.