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Gutsy ISP Knights edged out by powerful Warriors

The ISP Newcastle Knights battled away in a close encounter with a big New Zealand Warriors side but couldn't quite record the results, going down 22-18 at McDonald Jones Stadium on a blistery Sunday afternoon. 

Despite a Warriors outfit stacked with NRL experience, a determined Knights found some much needed form to stun the visitors early, but sheer size and power played to the advantage of the Warriors as the visitors were able to grind out a four point win.

An early penalty eventuated right in-front of the sticks for the visitors but some solid defensive plays from the Knights forced a dropped ball by the Warriors, and it was back in red and blue hands. 

In the eighth minute, a precision grubber by Brock Lamb found Pat Mata'utia on the left edge to gather the goods and ground the ball in goal for the Knights first try. The wind wasn't kind, and Lamb couldn't slot the extras. Knights led 4-0. 

Not long after, the Knights struck again via fullback Nick Meaney, who crashed over for the home side's second. Newcastle made it 8-0 after 15 minutes. 

The defensive edge from Newcastle was on show as Knights winger Tom Hughes scrambled to drag the Warriors over the sideline with the ball and gain back possession. 

Shortly before halftime the Warriors made their way onto the board; Joseph Vuna gathered the crumbs from a short grubber and rolled over the defence line to slam the ball in-goal. Tevin Arona added the extras, but it was Knights 8-6 into the break. 

In the second, a sneaky intercept by Hayden Loughrey could have seen the Knights record their third but the referee pulled it back, calling the five-eighth off-side. 

Back in Warriors hands, the visitors made the most of it as Blake Ayshford found a gap to tumble over the line 49 minutes in. Arona made no mistake and booted the conversion to see New Zealand take the lead, 12-8. 

Lamb didn't worry about the blistery conditions and confidently booted a kick down field to pull off a 20/40 and edge the Knights closer to the Warriors line. 

A strip gave the Knights a fresh six set before another penalty restarted the count. The Knights moved the ball left to right and finally to Hughes deep in the pocket slid over in the 56th minute. Meaney couldn't nail the conversion and the score line was locked at 12-all. 

But the Warriors returned fire minutes later via fullback Hayze Perham and the conversion was successful, the visitors back in-front, 18-12. 

New Zealand continued to fire as Albert Vete crashed over in the 65th minute to extend their lead 22-12. 

Knights centre Beau Fermor was the next to add to the tally as he charged through to plant the ball down for an easy four pointer. This time Meaney nailed the kick and Newcastle trailed 22-18. 

And it could have been a Knights thrilling finish, but the referee ruled an obstruction and the Warriors kept the Knights at bay for the final minute to take victory, 22-18. 

Match Summary 
Knights 18 (T: Mata'utia, Meaney, Hughes, Fermor G: Lamb 0/2, Meaney 1/2) 
Warriors 22 (T: Vuna, Ayshford, Perham, Vete G: Arona 3/4)