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2022 Pathways season review

The 2022 season was another huge year for our nib Newcastle Knights pathways teams.

After couple of seasons disrupted by COVID-19, the pathways competitions returned to normality with the Knights fielding teams in the senior and junior ranks.

Please see below for a season review on each team:


Our Knock-On-Effect NSW Cup team finished in 10th place in the 2022 competition, three wins short of a finals appearance.

After losing in the final stages of the season opener, the Knights put together an impressive 30-4 victory over the Western Suburbs Magpies in Round 2 at Morry Breen Oval, Central Coast. Wyatt Shaw led the way with 31 tackles and a try, coupled with Simi Sasagi’s 182 run-metre effort.

After their victory over Western Suburbs, our Knights would lose the next three including a nail biting 18-16 defeat against the Newtown Jets in Round 4. It wouldn’t be until Round 6 where the Knights would find their next victory in a 34-24 win against Canterbury-Bankstown. The Bulldogs could not find an answer for the efforts of Ben Talty, who bagged a try on his way to 231 well-earned run metres.

Their record sat at just four wins and six losses when the Knights knocked off first-place and future premiers Penrith Panthers in Round 12. In perhaps their best game of the season, the Knights would put in a strong performance at the Maitland Sports Ground, with seven different try scorers on-route to a 36-26 victory.

Unfortunately, the team were unable to gain momentum on the back of such an important win and lost the next four games.

Sitting one spot out of the top 8 and itching to turn the tide, the team would snag their first back-to-back wins of the season against Souths and Blacktown in Round 17 and 18 .

Players’ Player Luke Huth would set the tone on the defensive end with 49 tackles in their final victory of the season, while dynamic centre Heath Gibbs ran 210 metres and scored two tries.

With the Knights sitting 9th on the ladder, the next two games against 8th-placed St George and 10th-placed Mounties would be decisive in the race for the final spot in the top 8.

However, the Knights found themselves on the wrong side of two gut-wrenching losses in Rounds 19 and 21, coming up short in both games by just two points. This ruled the Knights out of the Knock-On-Effect NSW Cup finals series, as the team went on to lose the final three games of the season.

In a challenging year, the Cup side were forced to use 61 players across the season, losing by less than six points on six occasions.

On a positive note, this enabled some developing players to gain great experience through good game time against quality opposition.

Along with his Players’ Player award, Luke Huth would also take out the prestigious NSW Cup Player of the Year award.

Jersey Flegg Cup

Our Jersey Flegg Cup team were a force to be reckoned with in this year's competition, as the squad finished the regular season in 2nd place with an impressive 15-7 record.

Although the squad would start off slow with a defeat against the eventual minor premiers in Round 1, the Knights would slowly build momentum in the opening rounds, and by Round 7 the team sat equal-first.

The Knights would later rectify their season opening loss against the Roosters in Round 22 with a stellar second-half performance to clinch the victory 22-14. Noah Nailagoliva scored two barnstorming tries off the bench to secure the win.

Boasting victories against third place Penrith in Rounds 3 and 12, the Knights were legitimate contenders heading into the finals series.

The team faced the Penrith Panthers in the first week of the Jersey Flegg finals series, defeating their opponent 22-16. This led to a clash against the minor premiers, the Sydney Roosters for a spot in the grand final.

Up 24-6 at the halftime break, the Newcastle Knights managed to fend off a second-half surge from the home side, and secured a trip to the big dance with a 24-22 victory.

They met Penrith again in the Grand Final, for the second time in the finals series and fourth time this year.

It was a tight affair leading into halftime, with both teams tied 6-6, however two tries in the first 20 minutes after the break would see the Knights in the driver's seat at 18-6.

Penrith settled the score with two tries of their own in the final ten minutes including one in the final seconds to tie the game 18-18 with 10 to go.

Neither team would give an inch; the Knights managed to defend two field goal attempts before the final whistle. However, it was Penrith who attempted their third and final field goal in golden point to secure the premiership

Although our Jersey Flegg boys fell just short of the premiership, the journey is far from over. The Newcastle fans have much to look forward to in the coming years, thanks to the wealth of young talent within the Knights pathways systems. Thomas Cant was awarded the Jersey Flegg Player of the Year, and Brock Greacen and James Johnson shared the Players’ Player award.

Oryn Keeley and Krystian Mapapalangi made their NRL debuts this season, along with an appearance in the U/19’s State of Origin for Oryn, Max Bradbury, Paul Bryan and Eddie Hampson.

Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership

In the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership saw our Knights finish in 5th place, just shy of a finals appearance.

Several players that featured in the premiership winning Knights NRLW side were also a part of the Harvey Norman NSW Womens Knights squad, with the competition running prior to the NRLW season from April to July.

The Knights began the season strong with a 3-1 record heading into the Round 5 bye, including a hat-trick from Jillaroo representative Caitlan Johnston in Round 3.

Unfortunately, the girls would win just one of the remaining four games, combined with a draw and two losses, to fall short of the finals by one competition point.

Caitlan Johnston took out Player of the Year and Players’ Player, before embarking on a meteoric year that included State of Origin and World Cup success for the Windale junior.

SG Ball

Our SG Ball Cup side had a very competitive 2022 season, finishing 2nd on the ladder with a 6-1-1 record. The side featured several notable names from the Jersey Flegg Grand Final side, including Fletcher Sharpe and Max Bradbury, along with NRL debutant Oryn Keeley.

The SG Ball squad scored an enormous number of points to begin the season, notching up 120 combined points in their first three rounds victories.

Although the following three games were intensely close affairs, the Knights would finish the season with the best for-and-against in the competition.

The Knights best result of the year by far was their 76-0 victory of the St George Dragons, including an astounding six tries to fullback Sharpe and 10 conversions from halfback Liam Sutton.

Unfortunately, the Newcastle Knights SG Ball Cup team would fall short to the eventual premiership-winning Penrith Panthers in week two of the finals, going down 25-6.

Prop Paul Bryan took home the SG Ball Cup Player of the Year award and Fletcher Sharpe winning Players’ Player.

Myles Martin was awarded the Coach’s Award, and Oryn Keeley was chosen as the Elijah Faalua Award for Leadership.

Harold Matthews Cup

The Knights Harold Matthews Cup team finished in 12th place in the 2022 competition, managing two wins in eight games.

The season was not without its bright moments, including a 30-16 victory against the Canterbury Bulldogs in Round 6 of the competition.

Jermain McEwen was the star slotting three conversions to go with a four-pointer for a personal tally of 10 points.

The Knights carried the momentum into the following week earning a back-to-back victory against the St George Dragons. McEven again found plenty of points, converting four from five and another try, while front-rower Jarred Williams crashed over for a double.

Prop Cody Hopwood took out the Player of the Year Award at the end-of-season awards night, with Jarred Williams taking Players’ Player accolades and Jack Hilliar awarded the Coach’s Award.

Tarsha Gale Cup

Our Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup team finished the regular season in third place with five wins and a Grand Final appearance.

After a win and a loss in close games to start the season, the Tarsha Gale side went on to record some impressive scorelines throughout the remainder of the regular season.

The side finished the campaign with a comprehensive 208-56 for and against record.

Dummy-half Sophie Clancy finished overall 4th top-point scorer for the competition while rookie halfback Jesse Southwell finished an astounding 2nd despite only appearing 3 times in the regular season.

In the games Southwell played the Knights for and against total was 138-16, for an average winning margin of 44 points.

The final series for the Tasha Gale girls included close contests each week, winning their first matchup against the Dragons 22-20, followed by a 16-14 victory against Parramatta.

The Knights would meet the Sydney Roosters in the final at Commbank Stadium, falling short in a 12-10 loss.

At the junior representative season awards night, Sophie Clancy was presented with the Player of the Year award, back-rower Jules Kirkpatrick took out Players’ Player and Kyah Watters won the Coach’s Award.

The Newcastle Knights would like to thank everyone who played, coached, volunteered, and administered in all our Pathways programs.

Special thanks to the friends and family who supported the players in the background, we appreciate your hard work and commitment.

We are excited about the future and look forward to the progression of talent through our systems.