North Sydney were without Lachlan Lam but they had a couple of other players with NRL experience who stood up against the Newcastle Knights in the Canterbury Cup NSW, writes Andrew Jackson.
The Knights went down 22-10 on Good Friday.
Drew Hutchinson and Brock Lamb’s first-grade experience showed, with the pair having a hand in all of the home side’s tries.
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The Knights, on the other hand, were dealt an early blow when five-eighth Hayden Loughrey was forced off the field in his first game back in the Canterbury Cup.
Unable to build on last week’s two-point win over Blacktown, Newcastle fullback Jacob Gagai said last-tackle options are holding them back from building on success.
“Were trying hard, were fighting hard, it’s just little silly things like last tackle plays and penalties on last plays that let them into the game,” Gagai said.
“If we can shut that out, we’ll be sweet.”
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Gagai conceded losing Loughrey to injury early in the game also hurt their chances.
“It was pretty hard (losing Loughrey), obviously he was our half and we had four middles on the bench which made it hard but there’s no excuses, we just need to execute better,” Gagai said.
The Bears were given their first opportunity at Newcastle’s line when John Tuivaiti surged towards the 20 and picked up a penalty and they were quick to capitalise.
A tip-on put Fletcher Baker in space as the second rower drew and pass to put Ed Murphy over in the corner for the first of the afternoon.
Newcastle eventually hit back when a late offload from Sam Stone created numbers on the right edge and quick hands from Tautau Moga sent Heath Gibbs flying over in the corner.
After Loughrey hobbled off, the Bears quickly regained ascendancy when Bernard Lewis soared over minutes later.
Momentum swung back in Newcastle’s favour when Gagai broke down the left edge and Bears hooker Bradley Deitz was sin-binned after holding down the Knights fullback too long.
North Sydney were punished for the error after Matt Croker pounced on a deft grubber right before half time to lock things up.
Lewis sliced over for his second try of the game before a late try to Hutchinson sealed the win as the Bears.