The Newcastle Knights fans and organisation have long had wraps on the potential and quality of the Mata’utia brothers and two of them showed why, as they helped their side to an upset win over the New Zealand Warriors.
Scoring four tries between them, Sione and Chanel Mata’utia were instrumental in their sides win and helped them to back-to-back wins.
It was smooth sailing to begin the game for the Knights as they scored three tries in the first 26 minutes, before Shaun Johnson – who returned for the Warriors this week – led his side’s comeback to claw back the deficit.
The game went back-and-forth for some time, though the Knights held on to give their season some smiles and good times.
In what has been a turbulent season for the Knights, particularly in dealing with the earlier injury to Alex McKinnon, their heart and determination have been evident in recent weeks.
Now, it is paying off and giving their fans something to cheer about.
Having seen Mata’utia come through the ranks, Knights coach Wayne Bennett had some very kind words for Sione, labelling the youngster as a future club captain.
“He has great attributes. The greatest thing about him is I can imagine one day he will captain the Knights and be a great player throughout his career,” said Bennett.
He has played fullback for us, his preferred position is centre but he played well for us on the wing today.”
“I don’t think anyone at the club would doubt that [Sione is captain material]. It is a long way away for him but I’m sure one day… thatâ€™s the way he is heading.”
Echoing the sentiments of his coach, Knights captain Kurt Gidley was quick to point out the toughness in Sione.
“For a young guy, I’ve seen him play in those junior Origin games and our Under 20’s team and he was only 17 at the start of the year. He is prepared to put his body on the line and he doesn’t have a big head or an ego,” Gidley said.
“He trains hard and talks well and he has all those attributes to be a leader especially around his peers around his age so it is a pleasure playing with the younger guys coming through.”
As for the Warriors, there were no excuses. Poor discipline is what ultimately cost them.
“The majority of our penalties were poor discipline but that is no excuse as to how we played,” Warriors captain Simon Mannering said.
“They deserved to win. We had our chances at the end but unfortunately we couldn’t get over â€“ but we’ll be back into it next week.”
Agreeing with his captain, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden denied that his side were complacent heading into the game.
“We knew that it was never going to be in the bag instantly,” McFadden said.
“We knew that when we came here that the opposition were going to have a real go. They have shown that over the past month of football and they were just a little bit too good for us.
“It was five tries all but they kicked more goals. We certainly had a go but we conceded too many points in the end.”