New Dawn for Newcastle
Knights 22 def Canberra 18

The new era for Newcastle was unleashed last night by Brian Smith, as young stars Luke Walsh and Jarrod Mullen paired up at the scrumbase – lifting Newcastle to an impressive win over inconsistent Canberra.

As predicted the Canberra Raiders, were their usual inconsistent self – failing to deliver the goods away from the cold of Canberra.The Raiders look to have the skill, depth and coaching to achieve a top 8 berth in 2007, however it must be a mental block preventing them from winning away from the ACT.

Alan Tounge again showed his value, involved in everything and scoring the first try (which was amazingly disallowed by video Referee Steve ‘Terminator’ Clark). The unfashionable Tounge is the driving force behind the young Raiders and is the glue keeping the green machine together. Young fullback Zillmann had a poor game tonight, the young fullback has plenty of potential but again his positional play was under question. He plays very deep, and invites chip kicks from opposition sides. Sure, he has speed to burn – but it caught him on when Tighe ran around him to score and seal the game. Big forward Scott Logan needs to throw the shoulder charge out his game, aggression is good – but the big bopper tends to let aggression get in the way of smart play – and it’s going to cost the Raiders big time soon.

The Knights fought well to overcome their own demons, and they obviously have had a lot of baggage this year to get past. With some familiar faces back in the team, and the new scrumbase pairing on show – all things look good for Newcastle in the future. The fact that Luke Walsh and Jarrod Mullen have spent plenty of time together in the junior grades is such a bonus and will speed up the introductory period nicely for the Knights. The option of two play makers, one left and one right foot kicking game makes things difficult for opposition teams and the sublime 40/20 from Mullen last night is a sniff of things t come.

The Knights forwards were impressive, with Steve Simpson very physical and aggressive – giving confidence to youngsters such as Patterson and Bailey. The back 3 for Newcastle were also in the zone, gaining big metres and threatening at every opportunity. The Penrith bound Brad Tighe will be a loss for the Knights, the athletic and speedy centre looking the goods last night and through the year.

The Knights started nervously, and Gidley’s hands didn’t help things – but as the game wore on the confidence grew. Looking to the future, I think this scrumbase combination of Luke Walsh and Jarrod Mullen has the opportunity to rival that of Sterling and Kenny or Mortimer and Lamb. Sure, big calls there – but with their skill levels and understanding of each other, the sky is the limit for the Knights.

Next week the Knights must travel away to face the in form but injury battered Gold Coast Titans and the Raiders must be excited to face the hapless Cowgirls, I mean Cowboys – down in the ACT to get things back on track for the green machine.

By ricky

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