Ponga Pearce masterclass guides Knights to victory

The Knights came out of the gates with a bang.

Defence. Tick. Confidence. Tick.

A couple of early points as Kalyn Ponga showcased his usual flare, while captain Mitchell Pearce exposed the opposition with his exceptional boot to drive the home side to a much needed 28-14 victory.

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Connor Watson leaped for the line just three minutes in but fell short as the crowd let out a gasp.

A penalty minutes later 20 in-front saw Ponga take the kick for an early lead to the Knights.

The pressure from the red and blue was running hot and so was Pearce as his kicking game continued to threaten the opposition.

Running it up the field Newcastle caught a break. Danny Levi ran the ball out of dummy half and side stepped his way into free space.

Ponga backed up to receive the ball and sprint 50 metres for the Knights first try. With an own conversion it was Newcastle in the lead, 8-0.

Another perfect kick from Pearce bounced just before the dead ball line and from nowhere Lachlan Fitzgibbon barged his way through to dive on the ball and claim the try.

Ponga made no mistake to send it through the uprights. Knights 14-0.

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Pearce tried his luck once again with another sneaky grubber. It found Mitch Barnett under the posts as he dived over the ball. It went to the bunker, but it didn’t achieve downward pressure. No try!

The Knights could do no wrong. In the 27th minute, Levi dished off to a determined James Gavet. He found some space to crash his way through three Eels defenders and find the line.

Ponga nailed the conversion and the Knights had the score line stretched out to, 20-0.

Parramatta nearly recorded their first, but defensive pressure and some calm heads stopped a potential try by Clint Gutherson out wide.

Although, the Knights just couldn’t contain the visitors before halftime. An impressive cut out pass from Blake Ferguson to Maika Sivo on the wing netted their first points. Mitchell Moses slotted the kick to bring the score line to 20-6.

Sivo almost had another with seconds to go before the break but it was pulled back for a forward pass, although an off-side penalty saw the Eels kick for the two.

The Knights on top at halftime, 20-8.

In the second, straight out of the blocks a mistake from the Eels saw the Knights with a fresh set 20 metres out. A forward pass handed it back.

After weathering a defensive storm, the eels took advantage of a penalty and kept driving forward before Manu Ma’u broke free and ran through a hole. Moses made the conversion, the Knights still in-front, 20-14, with 26 minutes to play.

The ball came loose down field and Ponga gave chase. He was awarded a penalty after an unfair tussell with Peni Terepo. He opted for the kick and added two to make it 22-14.

Despite an opportunity from the Eels to find the line, a fumble gifted Newcastle back possession.

Finally, a Knights moment in the 69th minute. Pearce grabbed the ball, charged to the line and thrust himself forward with a swinging arm to bring the ball over the line.

Ponga kept his perfect kicking record. It was the Knights 28-14.

The Knights fought for the next ten minutes to keep their opponents scoreless and take out a gritty win over the Eels, 28-14.

Knights 28 (T: Ponga, Fitzgibbon, Gavet, Pearce G: Ponga 4/4 PG: Ponga 2/2)

Eels 14