All posts by Karthik

Newcastle Knights edge Manly Sea Eagles in gritty affair

Newcastle Knights prop Daniel Saifiti

The Newcastle Knights won 14-12 in a tight, gritty game with some steely defence but was marred by some last second controversy, robbing Manly the chance to tie up the game.

Both sides had a lot to prove going into the game after both having their worst performance of the season last week.

Newcastle started off the stronger of the two and applied a lot of pressure for not much result.

The pendulum finally swung their way when the trusted Mitchell Pearce and Lachlan Fitzgibbon combination clicked.

Pearce put in a deft grubber that Fitzgibbon almost scored off and on replays it was clear he was obstructed in a strong try scoring opportunity.

Daly Cherry-Evans held his arm back enough to deny him getting the ball down but as the fullback was there for Manly it was a professional foul and not a penalty try.

Knights took the safe option and opted for the 2 points.

However, they made better use of the extra man and continued their onslaught with a few repeat sets.

Eventually Andrew McCullough got his first points in Newcastle colours with a trademark dummy-half try.

Knights were up 8-0 and the sin bin was starting to take its toll on Manly.

But Cherry-Evans more than made up for his brain snap by leading Manly to their first points.

He took control of the game and when they were eventually in the red zone he ran over for a brilliant individual try.

Newcastle had one more try in them for the half and on the stroke of halftime Pearce found Mann on the end of a nice chip kick in-field and scored their second try of the day.

The Knights finished the half with a respectable 14-6 lead and in the end they defended their way to victory in the second half with no more points in their attack for the day.

As such, it was all Manly in the second half. The possession and territory was all theirs but all they could get was 1 try.

Cherry-Evans again the man who put Cade Cust through with a brilliant pass under the posts.

The Knights had a lot go against them, losing Edrick Lee to a broken forearm then Sione Mata’utia to concussion and then Ponga to concussion in the last 15 mins.

But even through all that adversity, they held strong and won 14-12.

But in the last play of the game there was controversy as Manly made a break and Tevita Funa put in a kick into the Newcastle in-goal.

On the replay, you could see he was then pushed after putting in the kick and being denied any chance of chasing after the ball.

While he wouldn’t have made much difference, it was still a penalty but the bunker didn’t see it that way, not wanting to make that call to deny Newcastle the win.

It was no try and game over, which led to a few Manly players letting the referee know their thoughts.

As a result, Addin Fonua-Blake was sent off after the siren for a few misplaced, choice words.

The better team ultimately won but nonetheless it was a controversial finish.

NRL News Player of the Game

Daniel Saifiti – 3

David Klemmer -2

Daly Cherry-Evans – 1

Newcastle Knights prop David Klemmer

Courageous Manly Sea Eagles hold out the Canberra Raiders

Manly Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic

A courageous Manly Sea Eagles side who lost 3 key players due to a dodgy playing surface and bad luck, beat the Canberra Raiders in a dogged encounter.

Going into the game both sides well equally backed and were hard to split.

Both teams have been in indifferent form since the competition restart, so the game had the makings to be a classic.

However, the first 5 minutes of the game put Manly on the back foot and unfortunately didn’t allow the game to be played out to it’s full potential.

Manly lost Dylan Walker in the first 2 minutes when his ankle got caught in an awkward tackle.

Luckily, for Manly they had a half on the bench in Lachlan Croker who slotted straight in.

The next set, Brad Parker was knocked out cold in an unfortunate incident when he slipped and hit Iosia Soliola’s knee.

While bad luck played a part in both injuries, the Campbelltown surface left a lot to be desired.

The ground was very patchy and looked abysmal to say the least.

Frankly, it wasn’t up to first grade standard and it looked like the wear and tear of continued use had taken its toll on the playing surface.

But Manly hung in there with their awful start and with a few repeat sets through the new rules they finally scored.

Tom Trbojevic ripped through Canberra’s right edge defence and scored quite easily.

The first half was quite even as teams traded blows.

The game was played in the middle third but Tom Trbojevic again proved the difference as he set up Tevita Funa for his first of the day.

Again, the Raiders right edge struggled to contain the electric Manly fullback and paid the price.

Curtis Scott in particular looked like a deer in headlights at times.

Trbojevic was ultimately the difference in the first half and without him, Manly wouldn’t have had any sort of lead.

The Raiders started stronger in the second half and Wighton took the reigns and continued his excellent form.

He looked threatening for the first time and it lead to the Raiders one and only try for the day.

He took the ball to the Manly line and played Whitehead through in an effortless manner for a nice try.

Manly lead 12-6 with about 30 minutes to play.

But there was one more cruel twist for Manly as things went from bad to worse.

Tom Trbojevic pulled up lame in a run and on the replay, you could see he had done his hamstring

Last year, the same injured hamstring cost him close to 15 weeks on the sidelines.

According to early reports, it looks like a grade 2 strain which could  see him out for up to 6 weeks.

The Raiders came close a few more times with their best opportunity coming from a fantastic leap for a kick from Jarrod Croker.

However, he landed short of the try line and knocked it on in the process.

Garrick converted a penalty into points which eventually led to the game finishing 14-6, with nothing else of note occurring in the last 10 minutes.

Manly look all the bit a contender and if they can get all their troops back onboard, then you know Des Hasler will have them primed when needed.

The Raiders on the other hand have a lot of soul searching to do, having played some really poor footy since the post Covid break.

With the exception of the Storm win, they haven’t played like a top 4 side.

NRL News Player of the Round 

3 – Tom Trbojevic

2 – Jake Trbojevic

1 – Addin Fonua-Blake

Manly Sea Eagles lock Jake Trbojevic

Knights announce their arrival with win over Canberra

Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga

The Newcastle Knights punched well above their weight and beat one of the competition favourites, the Canberra Raiders with Ponga’s best game of the season.

Coming into the game, the Knights got some important players back while the Raiders started off as deserved favourites.

It was the Knights who started off in blistering fashion with a great first set.

A towering Pearce bomb forced Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad into an uncharacteristic error.

Straight off the first tackle from the scrum, the Knights moved the ball left.

Ponga swung around to his favoured left edge and set Bradman Best up for a strong run for the first points.

The Raiders were down 6-0 before they even knew what hit them.

The Raiders were well off the pace but still looked threatening when they did have the ball.

Uncharacteristically, they weren’t able to capitalise on a few probing raids in Newcastle’s half.

An unforced error from Jack Wighton allowed Newcastle to extend their lead.

Wighton first dropped the ball without any pressure then in defence his left edge partners broke apart with ease.

Ponga used all his skill to slice through and score a brilliant individual try.

It was all the Knights as they continued to play clinically in the first half with a high completion rate.

Meanwhile, the Raiders were scrappy; struggling to get into any sort of rhythm or consistency.

However, when Canberra get it right, they’re unstoppable.

That’s what happened when live-wire half George Williams put up a pinpoint kick for Wighton on the Knights line.

Wighton jumped high and came down with a terrific put down.

Wighton continued his rollercoaster game with another critical mistake when he took out Newcastle centre, Tuala in the Raiders in-goal in a clear try scoring opportunity.

Bradman Best put through a grubber kick in broken field that sat up for Tuala but Wighton got his timing all wrong.

He tackled him before he was able to pick up the ball.

It was an easy call for the bunker and Newcastle led 16-6 at halftime.

Both teams started off the second half exactly the same as they finished in the first.

The Raiders continued to make mistakes and the Knights made the most of it.

Ponga orchestrated another left side attack from a scrum and created a try for Edrick Lee from next to nothing.

Ponga’s brilliance continued and it was all Newcastle to start the half.

For the third time Ponga, shredded the Raiders right edge defence and set up Lee for his second of the day.

The Knights were up 28-6.

The Raiders unexpectedly hit back straight away with a short kick off catching Newcastle unaware.

Williams again kicked on last and produced another breathtaking finish, this time for Cotric.

The Raiders continued to power back into the game after a Newcastle error.

This time it was a soft try to Papalii who picked up an errant offload and ran straight through Kurt Mann for an easy try.

In spite of the 2 quick tries, that was all the Raiders could muster as Newcastle eventually held on.

It was an absorbing battle but the Knights finished the game with Best scoring his second try of the day from a Raiders mistake.

The Raiders were poor for the most part but the Knights played well in all aspects of the game, running hard, kicking well and tackling strong.

Ponga was ultimately the difference, with the Raiders having very little answers to his game.

NRL News Player of the Game

  1. Kalyn Ponga (NEW)

2. Bradman Best (NEW)

1. Mitchell Pearce (NEW)

Newcastle Knights centre Bradman Best

Knights valiant over the Panthers in the first draw of the year

Newcastle Knights prop Daniel Saifiti

The 50th meeting between the two clubs produced the most exciting finish of the round and one in which Newcastle Knights should be proud of their efforts against the Penrith Panthers.

While both clubs were missing key personnel due to various issues, it was still considered a close contest before kick-off.

Newcastle endured the worst of starts with their inspirational captain, Mitchell Pearce getting knocked out in the first 5 minutes.

Then 3 minutes later Connor Watson had his right ankle snap back when it got caught in the ground.

Both players were ruled out for the rest of the match and with Ponga and Brailey already out prior, they lost three of their four first-choice spine.

This left Tex Hoy, Kurt Mann, Brodie Jones and Chris Randall in the key positions with all but Mann on debut.

Penrith started strong and with the unbelievable bad luck against Newcastle they asserted their dominance for the majority of the first 40.

Newcastle’s poor handling gave the ball back to Penrith on one too many occasions after a poor attacking Newcastle set.

Penrith marched down the field easily with Koroisau controlling the ruck with his influence from dummy half leading to the first 2 tries of the game.

He set up Kikau on the left edge to run over the top of a few Knights defenders and then Capewell on the right.

Knights were brave all half with nothing going their way but their resilience was rewarded with a soft try under the posts to Jacob Saifiti.

Penrith led 14-6 at halftime.

The second half started off uneventfully with both sides trading blows evenly until Penrith set up camp on the Knights try line for five straight sets.

Newcastle defended gallantly and turned the tide of the game by getting a 20-metre restart and went the length of the field for a try to booming back, Bradman Best.

The Knights continued to fight and scrap in every tackle and again came out on top with another try to Best from an Edrick Lee kick regather.

Hoy missed his second goal kick of the day, leaving scores tied with 10 to go.

Both sides missed a few relatively easy opportunities for a field goal in regulation time and with the scores tied we had out first golden point game of the round.

Golden point started with a length of the field set from Penrith which led to the unluckiest of ends.

Burton’s attempt hit the right post and bounced back into Korisau’s hands, who was in an offside position.

Newcastle then bombed their own opportunity to win.

Hoy set up Best in a 2 on 1 position, 10 meters from the try line but a poor pass hit the ground rather than his winger for the win.

The game finished in a draw as both teams’ lack of experience led to pressure getting the better of them in key moments.

Considering the players that were out for Newcastle and the way their forwards stood up in the game they would be the happier of the two sides.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary praised youngster Matt Burton for taking on the responsibility late in the game.

“I thought he was really brave and kept standing up,” Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said of second-gamer Burton.

“I’ve seen plenty of kids with either field goals or goalkicks when they’re not going so well hand it over to someone else.”

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Daniel Saifiti (NEW)

2. David Klemmer (NEW)

1. Apisai Koroisau (PEN)

Newcastle Knights prop David Klemmer