It may have been the game that saw Akuila Uate break the all-time Newcastle Knights try-scoring record but that was overshadowed, as the Wests Tigers took out an entertaining and heart-breaking contest.
It went down to the wire and the Knights were in the game right until the end despite a rather mediocre season so far before the game was turned on its head.
Expected to lead by example, Knights captain Kurt Gidley was instead sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul and that only put the Knights further onto the back foot.
The 23-20 loss at home was the Knights sixth in a row and it means that they now have to rely on mathematical chances to make the top 8.
Regarding Gidley’s sin-binning – seen as a professional foul by referee Ashley Klein – Gidley says he was only trying to get back onside following a 40/20.
“I was just trying to get back there as quick as possible from my point of view. I knew the 40/20 was happening. I was trying to gather our troops and try and get back there as soon as possible but the referee didn’t see it that way,” Gidley said.
“To start off with I didn’t think it was a 40/20 and I think there were a few of us in that boat and obviously when they got on their bike and started travelling down field pretty fast, we were just doing the same thing.”
Not one to beat around the bush, Knights coach Wayne Bennett admitted that it was probably the moment that cost them the game.
“I think they picked up nine points after that. It was still pretty close but we did a lot of good things with some good pressure and some good field position for long periods of time,” Bennett said.
“They chanced their arm and managed a result out of it and that probably happened three or four times today. Even that 40/20 kick, we had them down in the corner there and didn’t have much going for them and they pulled off a great kick.
“Our effort’s there and you can see they are out there putting a lot of effort into it, so we just have to keep turning up and doing the best we can and see what happens.”
What triggered that moment was a well-taken 40/20 by Luke Brooks, a kick that ended up changing the game.
With Luke Brooks still learning and developing as a player, coach Mick Potter was quick to acknowledge his good form and knows he is progressing.
“I think he is progressing OK. He’s doing a lot more right than wrong,” Tigers coach Mick Potter said of Brooks.
“That 40/20 kick just epitomises some of the stuff that he can do. We just need to make sure our forwards are going forward for him and you’ll see more of him then.
“Credit to Newcastle, they really handled us in that second half but he came up with the big play to get us down the other end of the field.”
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