Things looked rather bleak at one point but their fortunes quickly turned around, as the Newcastle Knights ensured their faithful fans went home cheering and not disappointed.
In front of more than 16,000 Novacastrians, the Knights were trailing 14-6 at the half-time break before mounting a remarkable second half comeback to overpower the New Zealand Warriors.
The match saw several players from both sides depart the field due to various niggling injuries like concussion or minor knee issues, but it was the Knights who managed to capitalise when it mattered.
Interestingly, a big moment in the game came when David Fa’alogo was sent to the sin-bin for a personal foul, yet the Knights managed to score a try.
As the game looked to be going back and forth, the Warriors would have been pleased at the break with the lead, with tries a penalty try to Thomas Leuluai and a try for Ryan Hoffman on his club debut.
That was where the good times for the Warriors ended, though, as the Knights played beyond their years, maintained their composure and executed their game brilliantly to come from behind and win.
The win was the club’s sixth straight at Hunter Stadium, their best home winning streak since 2009.
It was that very sin-binning that changed the game and that was the element that Knights coach Rick Stone saw as the turning point.
“It was a big boost to go well with Dave off the field and being able to get ourselves back into a winning position,” Stone said.
“The boys took a lot of confidence out of that.
“It was just one of those games though where both teams were a bit scratchy and hopefully the team that wanted it the most got the result. That’s what’s most pleasing for us.”
Knowing that they had their chances but failed to take them is what disappointed Warriors coach Andrew McFadden the most.
“I think that’s a fair assessment [to say we only have ourselves to blame]. It was extremely disappointing because we blew it,” McFadden said.
“We had a huge opportunity to win and we just lacked that composure and it was very disappointing. We overplayed our hand and went for the knockout punch when it wasn’t needed.”
Player of the Game:
3. Dane Gagai
2. Joey Leilua
1. Ryan Hoffman
Newcastle Knights 24 (Dane Gagai 2, Tyler Randell, Robbie Rochow Tries; Tyrone Roberts 3, Tyler Randell Goals) defeated Warriors 14 (Thomas Leuluai, Ryan Hoffman Tries; Shaun Johnson 3 Goals) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 16, 146.