A masterful performance by Jarrod Mullen has guided the Newcastle Knights to a 26-12 victory over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium Canberra.
Mullen proved a calming influence over his Knights team mates and his exemplary kicking game continuously kept Canberra pinned deep within their half and severely limited the impact of the talented Raiders’ back three, namely Anthony Milford.
The Raiders started the match well with Jarrod Croker slicing over in the 9th minute on the back of a brilliantly worked backline move featuring a sublime final pass from birthday boy Josh McCrone to Croker. The Goulburn junior successfully converted his own try to give the Raiders a 6-0 lead.
Newcastle then bit back with two consecutive tries to James McManus and Adam Clydesdale, with both tries successfully converted by halfback Tyrone Roberts.
The Knights looked like taking a 12-6 lead into the sheds at halftime until a barnstorming run by young gun Shannon Boyd off a nice short ball from Glen Buttriss gave the Raiders a timely boost two minutes before halftime. Croker’s conversion levelled scores 12 all at the break.
Unfortunately, the unforced errors and ill-discipline delivered by the Raiders was punished by the class of Mullen and Roberts’ kicking games and the potency of the Newcastle outside backs in the second half.
Beau Scott scored the Knights’ first try of the second stanza in the 48th minute and despite Canberra threatening the Newcastle defensive structure in the ensuing passages of play, it was the Knights who extended their lead in the 60th minute through Dane Gagai.
Roberts’ penalty goal late in the second half sealed a win for the Novocastrians.
While the Raiders were far from their best in this match, forwards David Shillington and Shaun Fensom battled hard for the Green Machine.
Shillington ran for 143 metres, made 23 tackles and two offloads and Fensom ran for just under 100 metres and made 47 inspiring tackles.
The side was disappointed with their performance in front of their home fans and are fired up to make amends next weekend at GIO Stadium Canberra against the Melbourne Storm.