The Newcastle Knights have defeated the Canberra Raiders 34-24 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Knights took full control of the first half, displaying some exceptional attack and great goal-line defence to set themselves up for a desperate win, in-bid for a top eight spot on the ladder. The Raiders ill-discipline gifted Newcastle some great field position to capitalise on the scoreboard.
The Knights were the first to strike when they spread the ball wide early in the tackle count. Fullback Kalyn Ponga identified the overlap and found Enari Tuala who broke three tackles to score an incredible opening try of the contest. Jake Clifford converted to give the Knights an early 6-0 lead after 5 minutes.
Canberra gave away a ruck infringement which allowed the Knights to gain momentum, which led to their second try. Ponga held up the defence and played a nice short ball to Bradman Best who broke the line and scored their second try in three minutes. Clifford converted again to extend their lead to 12-0 over Canberra.
The Raiders earned some momentum and field position off-the-back-of a Jordan Rapana line break. But the Knights defended their line well and forced a Canberra error to hold their early 12-0 lead.
Their impressive defence transitioned into their attack when their lethal left-edge attack continued to cause issues for the Canberra defence. Jake Clifford then finished off the set with a beautiful chip kick which found centre Kurt Mann to cross for their third try of the match. Clifford continued his perfect conversion rate, extending the lead to 18-0.
Jake Clifford kicked the ball out on the full late in the second half which granted the Raiders some great field position. They scored their first try of the afternoon through winger Harley Smith-Shields who finished a tough four-pointer in the corner. Jarrod Croker made no mistake as they trailed the Knights 18-6 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The Newcastle left edge attack continued to cause havoc when the Knights kept the ball alive with a few offloads. Bradman Best then showed incredible strength to break a couple of tackles and offload to Tuala for his second of the afternoon. Clifford couldn’t convert to carry a 16-point lead going into the sheds at halftime, 22-6 over Canberra.
The Raiders were the first to score in the second half when they took advantage of back-to-back set restarts. Canberra kept the ball alive and linked back up with star forward Josh Papalii through the middle who showcased some great footwork to find the try line. Croker converted to close-in on the Knights 22-12 lead.
The Raiders gave away a penalty on their goal line which the Knights elected to take a shot at a penalty goal. Clifford made no mistake to edge out to a 12-point lead at 24-12.
Newcastle forced a Raiders error on the last tackle after some outstanding defence. The Knights then took full advantage once again through their left edge attack, where Kalyn Ponga held up the defence and played a long cut-out pass for his winger Tuala to cross for a hattrick. The Knights extend their lead to 28-12 with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Another unforced Canberra error gifted the Knights some great field position where they scored another try. Kalyn Ponga caught the ball off the scrum and skipped outside Harawira-Naera and dummied and scored a well-deserved try. Clifford converted to extend the Newcastle lead to 34-12.
Raiders five-eighth showed some individual brilliance when he grubber kicked early in the tackle count and linked up with Elliot Whitehead. Wighton received the ball back and put lock-forward Hudson Young over for a try with under 10 minutes remaining. Croker converted to trail the Knights 34-18.
The Raiders claimed a try right on fulltime when front-rower Emre Guler crashed over to score adjacent to the posts. Croker kept his perfect conversion rate and converted to go down 34-24 to the Knights at Suncorp Stadium.