Wests Tigers have gone down to the Newcastle Knights 22-12 in front of a strong crowd at Hunter Stadium in their Round 10 clash on Sunday, May 17.
Welcoming back David Nofoaluma as a late inclusion in his first game back from injury, Wests Tigers were able to fight back from a 12-6 half-time deficit to level the match in the second half, before a mixture of attacking errors and enterprising play from the Knights saw the hosts emerge with a 10-point win in front of more than 15,000 fans.
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After Kevin Naiqama came within centimetres of an intercept on his own line, the Knights were able to post first points of the match after eight minutes when a sharp back-line move saw Dane Gagai put James McManus over in the corner.
Tyrone Roberts duly converted to give the home side an early 6-0 lead.
Wests Tigers quickly hit back, though, with a darting run from Luke Brooks breaking the line, before he linked up with Dene Halatau close to the posts, with the utility crashing over for his second try in as many matches after 17 minutes of play.
Pat Richards made no mistake with the conversion and leveled the match at 6-6.
Newcastle would take the lead in controversial circumstances just moments after, despite appearing to have not only stripped the ball on Richards, but also knocking it forwards before David Fa’alogo planted the ball down in the in-goal. The video referee then overturned the decision — ruling that the winger had lost the ball clean and the ball had gone backward — to give the Knights the most improbable of tries.
Roberts added the extras to give the Knights a 12-6 lead after 22 minutes.
The home side would continue to throw plenty at Wests Tigers’ defensive line, but Jason Taylor’s men would hold firm and only trail by six heading into the break.
Starting the second half with much more energy and enthusiasm, Wests Tigers were dealt a blow four minutes into the half when Chris Lawrence was struck high by Kurt Gidley — forcing the centre from the field. Incredibly, though, the home side escaped sanction for the tackle and the Knights were able to work the ball out from their own end.
Wests Tigers would be rewarded for their increased intensity with a scrappy try to Luke Brooks in the 50th minute, with James Tedesco soccering through the line twice before Gidley’s fumbled the ball in the in-goal — allowing the halfback to score an easy try.
Richards’ conversion locked the score up at 12-all after 51 minutes.
The home side would hit back straight away, though, with Joey Leilua touching down after 56 minutes following a cross-field kick that was knocked back by McManus. Roberts’ unsuccessful conversion saw the score remain 16-12, which would still give Taylor’s side plenty of opportunities to snatch back the win heading into the final 20.
Despite several incredibly close attacking chances — including a dropped intercept from Richards — Wests Tigers were unable to crack the line of their opponents and, following a win against the feed in the 71st minute, the Knights were able to seal the match with a late coverted try to Chad Redman in the 77th minute ensuring a win for the home side.
Newcastle would end their five-game losing streak with a 22-12 win, leaving Wests Tigers with back-to-back losses, which they’ll look to end next Saturday, May 23, when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys in their 10th Anniversary of the 2005 Grand Final.
NRL FULL TIME — Newcastle Knights 22 (McManus, Fa'alogo, Leilua, Randell tries; Roberts 3/4 goals) def. Wests Tigers 12 (Halatau, Brooks tries; Richards 2/2 goals).