Five Key Points: Raiders v Knights
Knights break drought with another win with some young rookies stepping up when it mattered against a lacklustre Canberra Raiders outfit on Sunday afternoon.
Knights break second-win drought
It's taken 629 days but the Knights have their second win of a season.
After only managing the one victory last season, the Knights' second win was over 18 months in the making.
The 14-point margin was also their biggest win since Round 24, 2015 and just their second victory against the Raiders from their last eight clashes between the two sides.
Raiders out of sorts
Three losses on the trot leaves the Raiders struggling in 10th position after ten rounds of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
In the trio of defeats, the performance against the Knights was their worst.
The Raiders had no answers for the Knights' attack and were guilty of overplaying their hand particularly in the opening half.
"We just couldn't get any footy or momentum in the game and it was a tough grind," Stuart said after the match.
"[Newcastle] did a good job and completed 19 of 19 in the second half.
"You give that type of possession and completion rate to any team and it will be a hard day."
Halves persistence pays off
Nathan Brown resisted the option of recalling Knights halfback Trent Hodkinson for the clash and it proved to pay dividends.
The young halves pairing of Brock Lamb and Jaelen Feeney finally clicked after two scrappy performances in recent weeks.
Where that leaves Hodkinson's immediate future remains to be seen with Brown unlikely to make any changes (unless forced) heading into their clash with the Penrith Panthers next Sunday.
'Leipana' contained by Knights
It is rare to see but in-form Raiders winger Jordan Rapana had his quietest game of 2017 and centre-partner Joey Leilua was well-contained.
Rapana only managed 59 metres from nine carries while Leilua was shut down by Peter Mata'utia and Nathan Ross on the Raiders' right-edge.
Stuart said it was the case for the entire side in 2017 that the opposition were targeting the Raiders after a breakout season last year.
"Teams improve and prepare for you and we have to, too," he said.
"We've got to be better than last year because teams are hunting us now. Last year we were ambushing and surprising a few teams so it was always going to be a tougher season this year.
"It's very good education for a young bunch."
Daniel Saifiti continues to boom
After a commanding effort in a beaten Fijian side last start, Knights prop Daniel Saifiti is quickly proving to be the leader of the pack.
Watching twin brother Jacob being stretchered from the field before half-time could have impacted the 21-year-old but he finished the game with 185 metres from 21 carries.
"He was sensational and that’s what I expect from Daniel," Brown said post-game.
"He had a slow start to the year but the last three weeks he's got better [each week] especially against test front-rowers and quality players.
"What he did today was that of a person that's got a big future ahead of him if he gets everything right."
This article first appeared on NRL.com