The Newcastle Knights have upset the second-placed Mounties with a gutsy 16-6 win in their Intrust Super Premiership clash at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The result put a dent in the Sydney-siders’ hopes of claiming the minor premiership, as they remain five points behind ladder leaders Penrith, with a group of four teams just two competition points back.
Match: Knights v Mounties
Round 21 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
The Ryan Carr-coached side had the better of early field position, and the Knights were given a scare when Thomas Hughes had to bat a tricky grubber kick dead, with kick chasers quickly bearing down on him.
A poorly-timed intercept attempt, followed by a penalty, gave the visitors their fourth-straight set on the Newcastle line, but they were let off the hook with the referee giving away an offensive penalty for obstruction.
The Knights’ defence withstood anything their opponents could throw at them, but discipline was problem for the Novocastrians – with repeated penalties leading to Brodie Jones being sin-binned.
But Mounties could not capitalise on the extra man, with several easy turnovers keeping the hosts in the contest.
Newcastle had their first real attacking opportunity of the first half with 13 minutes remaining, getting repeat sets on the Mounties line – and it was only a matter of time before they made it count on the scoreboard.
Some impressive offloading created a gap in the goal-line defence, and front rower Luke Yates crashed over for the opening try right on the half-hour mark, for a 6-0 lead.
Play was halted after Brent Naden went down after copping a heavy knock, and from the next play a Knights’ error allowed the Mounties another attacking opportunity late in the half, but this time they could not be denied.
A perfectly timed cut-out pass from Henry Raiwalui found Tony Satini with wide open space on the left-hand edge to cut the margin to two points at the break.
The last-placed Knights were taking the fight to the second-ranked side after the break, who took the opportunity to level the scores after getting a penalty right in front.
But the Mounties were soon under pressure again, when Satini could not take a Brock Lamb bomb, allowing the home side to set up camp on their line. There was no stopping Pasami Saulo, who charged through several defenders to crash over and restore the lead.
The Knights had all the momentum, and even the luck started going their way.
Mounties failed to clear a kick into the in-goal, Mitchell Andrews pounced to make it an 16-6 lead, with 10 minutes remaining.
The visitors had a chance for a late consolation try, but Satini could not regain the ball, which went into touch, as Newcastle claimed just their fourth win of the season.