The Knights are back in the winnier’s circle after overcoming a lacklustre start to down the Warriors 24-16.
The “alarm bells” went off early for the Knights when the Warriors scored two “soft” tries in eight minutes.
But they finally came alive and leveled the score before half time.
The Warriors struck first in the second half, but a howler of an error gifted the Knights the lead.
Both sides copped blows with a key Warrior sin-binned and a Knights star ruled out through injury.
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Enari Tuala got his second try of the day, this time off a grubber from new recruit Anthony Milford. Jake Clifford converted to take the Knights’ lead at 24-16.
The Warriors copped an untimely blow with winger Marcelo Montoya being controversially sin-binned for high contact on Dominic Young. The Knights winger had slipped and attempted to get back up and Montoya made high contact as he was tackling him back to the ground.
Shane Flanagan said in commentary that a “penalty would have been sufficient.”
Bad news for the Knights also came through at around the same time with Daniel Saifiti ruled out for the rest of the game with a MCL injury. Saifiti suffered it half way through the first half.
You can’t help but feel for Chanel Harris-Tavita who dropped the kick-off and handed the Knights prime field position. Newcastle took their opportunity and Kalyn Ponga came up with a slick ball to send Enari Tuala over. Jake Clifford converted to give the Knights the lead for the first time.
The Warriors started the second half even faster than the first half with Dallin Watene-Zekezniak scoring off a pinpoint cross-field kick from Shaun Johnson. Commentator Andrew Voss said it was “real training gallop stuff.”
Newcastle narrowed the scoreline through an Edrick Lee try. It came after Anthony Milford went deep into the line before passing onto Kalyn Ponga, who batted it onto Enari Tuala before the ball landed into Lee’s hands to cross. Jake Clifford nailed the sideline conversion to level the scores 12-all.
The Knights scored a crucial try to finally get on the board. Recalled halfback Jake Clifford put in a perfectly-weighted grubber for Tyson Frizell to score.
The Warriors extended their lead via a penalty goal. The penalty was awarded after Knights prop hit Shaun Johnson high as he attempted to score.
The Warriors went back-to-back with another try four minutes later, this time through young gun center Viliami Vailea.
Commentator Andrew Voss said “alarm bells” were sounding for the Knights early.
Adam Pompey scored an easy try in the fourth minute after mid-season recruit Freddy Lussick made a break earlier in the set.
Fox League analyst Shane Flanagan slammed Newcastle’s defense saying the try “looked way too easy, some soft defense there from the Knights.”
Chanel Harris-Tavita returns at five-eighth, with Daejarn Asi out of the Warriors for a must-win clash against the Knights.
Star prop and skipper Addin Fonua-Blake is out injured with Jazz Tevaga and Ben Murdoch-Masila named in the front-row, while mid-season recruit Freddy Lussick slots into dummy-half.
Another new recruit, Dunamis Lui, will play his first game for the Warriors after being promoted from the reserves on to the bench.
Meanwhile, young half Jake Clifford returns to halfback for the Knights after impressing in New South Wales Cup last week. He partners Anthony Milford with Adam Clune dropped.
In a huge blow for the Knights, Bradman Best is set for an extended sideline stay with an elbow injury. Enari Tuala comes into the centers to replace him.
The Knights will be hoping to revive their season, currently sitting in 15th place with three wings, above only the Bulldogs.
Warriors: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Ben Murdoch-Masila 9. Freddy Lussick 10. Jazz Tevaga 11. Euan Aitken 13. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris 14. Taniela Otukolo 15. Aaron Pene 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Eliesa Katoa 21. Dunamis Lui. Replacement player: 17. Eliesa Katoa
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Dane Gagai 4. Enari Tuala 5. Dominic Young 6. Anthony Milford 7. Jake Clifford 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13 Mitchell Barnett 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 17. Mathew Croker 18. Simi Sasagi. Replacement player: 16. Leo Thompson
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