The Canberra Raiders are on the march for a spot in the top eight as the Newcastle Knights look to salvage their season in the nation’s capital in Sunday afternoon football.
The first ten minutes of the match were heavily contested through the middle third of the field with both teams going set for set.
Off the back of a beautiful kick chase from Matthew Timoko causing a line drop out, an unassuming Joseph Tapine was found throwing the looping try assist to Nick Cotric down the left wing.
Jamal Fogarty fails to add the extra two from the left sideline.
As the first half progresses, Canberra finds themselves dominating possession and the field position. Newcastle under immense pressure at this stage of the game.
Multiple sets on their own line proves to be too much for Newcastle as Enari Tuala fails to make a one-on-one tackle on Timoko and he dives over for a try.
Jamal Fogarty fails to add the extra two once more.
Pressure continued to mount as Kalyn Ponga kicks the ball dead from the kick off.
This time Newcastle was saved by a knock on by Xavier Savage during the grounding off a Jamal Fogarty kick.
The second time around Xavier Savage made no mistake, a spectacular leap over multiple defenders, assisted by a beautifully lofted Fogarty kick. Fogarty would add the extra two.
As the half progressed Newcastle found themselves knocking on the door with momentum swinging their way.
Ponga then linked up with Kurt Mann sending him diving over close to the line.
The Knights closed the score line to 14-6 just before half time as Ponga added the extra two.
The contest was well and truly on in the second half and after a poor decision by Elliot Whitehead, he was put in the sin bin for a late hit on Ponga.
Soon after, the Newcastle Knights struck again with Ponga sending a kick straight past the Raiders defence.
Mat Croker did the honours to retrieve the kick and scored the try. Ponga adds the extra two brining the score line to 14-12.
The game looked all but over after a incredibly dominant first 40 minutes but now hung in the balance, with tension building as the clock ticks down.
A beautiful show of ball playing by Adam Clune sent himself through the line and Edrick Lee collected the honours in the left corner.
Newcastle took the lead 18-14 as Ponga slotted the side-line conversion to add the extra two.
The game continued to hang in the balance going into the final ten minutes of the match.
Tapine miraculously saved the game for the Raiders with under two minutes remaining.
Tapine found himself in his own in goal after a Newcastle line break, fighting off two Newcastle players and just staying inside the field of play.
The Raiders waltzed down the field after a cheap penalty was given away by the Knights as the game goes down to the final plays.
Could the Raiders do it? March 100m in just 45 seconds to snag a win?
Hudson Young amazingly scored a solo try to win the match in the dying moments of the game after spotting Ponga out of position in the ruck.
He put a grubber through the defensive line and iced the game off of his own hand and boot.
The Knights were brave but the Raiders never gave up, an exhilarating match between two teams that desperately needed the two points.
The Raiders came out winners 20-18 after Young’s match winner.
In what has been a tumultuous season for the Knights, despite the loss, coach Adam O’Brien was pleased with his side’s resilience and never-say-die attitude.
“I’m really proud of the never give in attitude toward the contest,” O’Brien said.
“We showed a lot more of the resilience that I think we’ve lacked this year.”
Ricky Stuart knows his side must be better despite the win but does believe his side is moving in the right direction.
It was so slow and ugly on the ground,” Stuart said.
“But we’ll be able to have a nicer spell now that we’ve got two points.
“We’re lacking cohesion but I still think our game is moving in the right direction.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Joseph Tapine (CAN)
2. Kalyn Ponga (NEW)
1. Hudson Young (CAN)