Canberra’s NYC team has been unable to complete an upset victory over a strong Newcastle Knights team 48-28 this morning at GIO Stadium.
The Raiders were looking to be the first team to defeat the Knights team this year, and following their close defeat in Newcastle the Raiders were confident of causing an upset.
Canberra started the game well and were clearly pumped for their rematch with the Knights.
They scored in the 2nd minute after Lachlan Creith was able to break through some flimsy Knights defence and offload to halfback Andrew Heffernan.
Heffernan was able to regather his own deflected pass as he jumped on the loose ball to open the scoring for the young Raiders, Mago was unable to make the close conversion in windy conditions.
Newcastle hit back in the next set after the Raiders were unable to diffuse a cross field kick. Newcastle winger Josh Birch scored under no pressure, and Bryce Donovan missed the conversion which left scores locked at four all after five minutes.
The game became a stalemate for field position with Mitchell Barnett doing his best with barnstorming runs to set the tone early. However it was the Knights that hit back through prop Jah Pakau.
Pakau was able to break the Raider’s line and score close to the post, Donovan made the conversion and the Knights had a handy 10-4 lead after 14 minutes.
Canberra struggled with the high ball and a cross field kick was unable to be taken by Lachlan Hurst, the loose ball was jumped on by Knight’s centre Chance Peni who scored in the corner to extend the lead to 14-4 after 16 minutes. Donovan missed the tough conversion, but the Knights were showing why they have been unbeaten in the first five rounds.
Newcastle took their lead further after dominating the possession, Knight’s hooker Danny Levi was able to score under the posts. Donovan converted the try and the Knights took a commanding 20-4 lead after 20 minutes.
The Raiders needed something to go their way and a mistake by Birch finally gave the Raiders some possession in the Knights half.
Canberra five eight Matthew Frawley made the error pay as he showed some dazzling foot skills beating a number of Knights defenders on the way to the try line. Scott Doyle showed his kicking skills as he was able to convert the try, and the Raiders were back in it 20-10 after 25 minutes.
Newcastle then took back control of the game scoring on their next two sets through Levi who grabbed his 2nd and second rower Joseph Tapine. Donovan was able to make only one of the two conversions, but the Knights had a commanding 30-10 lead after just 31 minutes.
Canberra were gifted an opportunity to get themselves back in the game following a Newcastle error. Doyle jumped on the error and was able to offload to Ricky Garard who managed to sprint 50 metres and beat two Knights defenders to score near the posts.
Doyle missed the close conversion, but the Raiders showed their trademark fighting spirit, when they were able to make repeat sets on the Knights defensive line count.
Creith took advantage of a tiring Knights defensive line, as he was able to find some space and score in the corner just on half time. Doyle missed the conversion but it was Canberra who took the momentum into half time despite facing a 30-18 deficit.
The nightmare under the high ball continued as Trae Clarke allowed one to bounce over his head, and Knight’s centre Sione Mata’utia gathered the ball and scored in the corner. Donovan nailed the tough conversion from the corner and the margin was back out to 36-18 after 42 minutes.
Canberra refused to give in though, and repeat sets on the Newcastle try line were made to count by Captain Patrick Mago who barnstormed over three Knights defenders to score close to the posts. Doyle made the conversion to bring the scores to 36-24 with 49 minutes gone.
A tough game was eventuating and it was a stalemate between the two sides for field position and possession. Following a penalty, Doyle was able to spark the Raiders with a defence splitting run that had the Knights defence scrambling.
Mago was able to capitalise on the run, as he scored his 2nd try for the game in the corner. Doyle missed the tough conversion but the Raiders had gotten themselves in a position to win the game trailing 36-28 with 20 minutes to go.
Momentum continued to go the Raiders way as they were gifted more field position following a penalty from a frustrated Knights team. Moments later it looked like the Raiders had brought the margin back to within a try.
However the Knights successfully challenged the Heffernan try and it was ruled that Garard knocked it on prior to Heffernan scoring. The decision deflated the Raiders as the Knights were able to get back out to a 12 point lead after Tapine was able to get his 2nd try for the game.
The try was converted and the Knights got back out to a 42-28 lead after 65 minutes.
Canberra had a number of opportunities to get the margin back to within striking distance, but they were unable to crack a strong Newcastle defence.
In contrast the Knights were able to take advantage of their opportunities, with Tapine showing why he will cause many teams in the competition headaches as he crossed for his third try with 6 minutes remaining.
Donovan converted the try and the margin was back out to 20 points with 5 remaining, with Newcastle in control of a dominant 48-28 scoreline.
A Heffernan kick was taken cleanly by Mamo in goals and Tevita Pangai Junior came through and shoulder charged the Knight’s fullback.
A scuffle erupted between the two teams, but no punches were thrown. But Pangai Junior was placed on reports by the referees for the 2nd week in a row.
In a game where the Raiders were able to contest it with the benchmark team in the competition, they were best served by Mago who was man of the match and Doyle who toiled hard all day.
The halves combination of Heffernan and Frawley continue to improve each week and despite the result, there is still plenty to be positive about.
Newcastle Knights 48 defeated Canberra Raiders 28
Tries: Mago 2, Frawley, Garard, Creith, Heffernan; Goals: Doyle 2
Tries: Tapine 3, Levi 2, Birch, Pakau, Peni, Mata’Utia; Goals: Donovan 6