80 minutes of normal time, 10 minutes of extra time and it was still not enough to split the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders, as the two sides drew 24-all in Newcastle.
There was a litany of attempted field goals by both sides but poor execution and a strong wind made any attempt difficult.
In Jarrod Mullen’s 200th game, the Newcastle veteran showed why he is revered by Knights fans. He was skillful, crafty and energetic, keeping the Raiders defence on their toes.
There were many moments that defined the game and gave both sides a chance to win, but neither could ultimately make the most of opportunity.
The Raiders looked to be in the box seat at one point, before the Knights dug deep and clawed back a deficit. Their young kids playing, whilst inexperienced and raw, showed that they have resolve and tenacity.
And just when it looked like the Knights might hold onto the win, the Raiders scored late, which took the game into golden point.
Back to the field goals – there were charge downs, skewed kicks and no real execution as both sides gave it all they had yet could not produce the point/s to win the game.
A bright light for the Knights was 18-year old Cory Denniss, who scored a double on debut – the first Knights player to do so since Junior Sa’u in 2008. His efforts pleased coach Nathan Brown.
“He did really well, didn’t he, the young fella? He just needed to back his instincts. He’s a good young player. He has a lot of talent, obviously everyone is quite aware that in 12 months time he’ll be a lot bigger, a lot stronger and a lot better,” Brown said.
“He handled himself very well. He scored two. He saved one which from a winger’s point of view is important. Everyone was very proud of him.”
There was an odd selection ahead of the game by the Raiders but it did the trick, as Elliott Whitehead made the shift to five-eighth and finished with two try assists.
“Elliott’s a class player. I had no worries about playing Elliott there at six. He has wonderful ball skills,” Stuart said.
Player of the Game:
3. Sia Soliola
2. Jarrod Mullen
1. Elliot Whitehead
Canberra Raiders 24 (Josh Papalii, Sia Soliola, Jordan Rapana, Brenko Lee tries; Jarrod Croker 4 goals) drew with Newcastle Knights 24 (Cory Denniss 2, Sam Mataora, Pat Mata’utia tries; Trent Hodkinson 4 goals) at Hunter Stadium. Half-time: Raiders 16-6. Injuries: Shannon Boyd â€“ Raiders (concussion).