The Canberra Raiders have been handed a one point loss at the hands of the Newcastle Knights, with a field goal in the 77th minute getting the Knights over the line 29-28 on Saturday afternoon.
Erros and penalties plagued Canberra throught the contest, whilst the side did well to level up the scores coming from behind twice and even going ahead late in the game. Newcastle proved too good as they continually took advantage of the attacking field position.
Late in the second half it looked as if the Raider were going to steal another win, with tries from Hickson and Croker putting Canberr in front for the first time in the match with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Tevita Pangai Junior performed at a high level for much of the game, but a knock on from him proved to be the deciding factor late in the game.
With Newcastle on the attack Brock Lamb stepped up to the mark for the Knights, and slotted his third attempt at the field goal which secured the two competition points for Newcastle.
It took ten minutes to open the scoring and Newcastle were first to strike points. Fuaimamao Uta was on the recieving end of quick hands out to the right side of attack, who ran in untouched to score the first try. With the conversion being unsuccessful from the sideline the Knights were ahead 4-0.
The Raiders kept were unable to complete their sets and conceing errors which played into the Knights hands. The home side scored consecutive tries as a move out to the left saw a flick pass go into Bryce Donovans arms who ran into a hole to put Newcastle ahead 10-0 after the conversion kick.
Canberra was finally given the opportunity to answer back and they took full advantage. After being piggy backed out of their own half on behlaf of the Knights conceding a penalty Hurst was in to score.
The attack came on the left and Lachlan Lewis threw a perfect cut out ball to Lachlan Hurst who ran in to score the Raiders first points of the half, the conversion was missed and the margin was 10-4.
Tevita Pangai Junior then made a break up the middle whih helped Canberra right back into the match.
Tevita had a quick play the ball which went out to Simon Woolford, he made half a break out of dummy half to give the ball off to Hurst who drew the Knights fullback in order for the support runner in Booth to score Canberra's second try.
Croker managed to convert he try to level up the scores 10-10 with 15 minutes left for the half.
Just as Canberra looked like they were about to head into half time even, the Knights managed to score after some good field position.
Mcnamara put in a grubber kick which bounced off Hurst, the bounce saw the ball end up back into his own hands to fall over the try line. Newcastle took a 6 point lead into the half 16-10.
The game began to heat up in the second half off a late hit from Luke Bateman conceded a penalty right infront of the uprights. Newcastle opted to take the two points on offer to extend their lead out to 18-10.
With both sides conceding penalties, Canberra were the first side to take full advantage of good attacking field position.
The Raiders halves of Croker and Lewis combined in the 50th minute to score Canberra's third try of the game, Croker passed the ball onto Lewis who put on the afterburners through a hole in the Knights line to score on the left hand side.
The lead was then reduced to just two points when Croker managed to convert Lewis' try, with the score being 16-18.
Again the Raiders weren't able to work themselves into the lead as Newcastle managed to steal a try close to the line.
Coming out of dummy half Danny Levi was only a metre away from the line and he snuck over due to poor defence from the Canberra Raiders. The Knights tried to take the conversion quickly to deny the Raiders an opportunity for a captains appeal, but missed leaving the deficit to only six, 22-16.
With Canberra under pressure in their own end, a bit of magic from the Canberra side saw them run the length of the field to tie up the scores with 20 minutes left in the game.
A strong run again from Tevita saw him poke his head through the line before offloading to to Woolford, he then through a ut out pass to Hickson who did the rest.
Hickson proved too fast and too elusive for the cover defence of the Knights, as he continued to step his way back in field to then score under the posts. Canberra managed to fight their way back into the contest for the second time getting level with Newcastle at 22-22.
The Raiders then managed to take the lead for the first time just 3 minutes after scoring their last try.
Brenko Lee showed his silky smooth hands as he took the line on and offloaded to thehard running Hickson, he broke down field to pass to Croker on the inside who ran under the uprights for an easy conversion attempt.
With 15 minutes remaining Canberra was in the lead 28-22 but the game was far from over.
As soon as Newcastle were on the attack they again managed to score off a Canberra mistake.
Brenko Lee attempted to clean up a grubber from the Knights before knocking back in goal for Newcastle's Ken Tolifau to score.
The scores were then level after Brock Lamb kicked the extra two points, heading into the last 10 minutes it was 28-28.
Again the Raiders dropped the ball in their own half which allowed the Knights to again take the lead. After Canberra did well to charge down an attempted field goal shot from Lamb, Newcastle recovered the ball for a second set of six.
Lamb them stepped up again just 10 metres out in front and slotted the field goal to give them the go ahead point leading 29-28 with only four minutes to go.
With 90 seconds left in the game, Morgan Boyle managed to make a break up the middle for Canberra, it managed to set up an opportunity for Croker to level up the scores but was put under huge pressure which forced the one-point attempt to go out to the left.
Unortunately for the Raiders that was where the game ended, 29-28 to the Newcastle Knights. Continuous penalties and errors in their own half from Canberra kept handing the Knights the attacking opportunities which is what undid the Raiders late in the game.