Wests Tigers have suffered a narrow 18-16 loss at the hands of the Newcastle Knights this afternoon at Hunter Stadium.
Both sides scored three tries each, however it was the Knights who held on to a two-point advantage through Trent Hodkinson’s three from three conversion attempts.
Tries to Akuila Uate, Korbin Sims and Nathan Ross sealed the victory for the home side, with Jordan Rankin (2) and James Tedesco crossing for Wests Tigers.
An early opportunity went begging for Wests Tigers when Mitchell Moses threw a cut-out pass that found the grass and was scooped up by opposition winger Akuila Uate from his own try-line in the 5th minute.
The news didn’t get any better for Wests Tigers when lock forward Sauaso Sue left the field in the 8th minute of play with concussion – with Ava Seumanufagai taking his place.
Moses bounced back and produced a piece of magic in the 11th minute of play, receiving the ball down the blind side and finding a flying James Tedesco back on the inside who went over to score his eighth try of the 2016 season.
The score remained 4-0 after Jordan Rankin missed his first conversion attempt of the season after taking over the goalkicking duties from Moses this week due to a groin complaint from the young playmaker.
The Knights struck back in the 19th minute on the back of a frantic series of events on field which began with Robbie Farah and Tedesco combining for in a 60-metre run out of the Wests Tigers end before play was turned over from a Luke Brooks error.
On the back of the mistake, Newcastle made a break back down the other end of the field through Jeremy Smith and Jaelen Feeney, before Uate eventually crashed over in the right corner.
Trent Hodkinson converted the try and the home side held a 6-4 lead mid-way through the first stanza.
Sue returned to the game in the 23rd minute after passing the concussion protocols, however the hard-hitting forward was penalised almost immediately – giving the Knights a huge chance to score with a full set inside the red zone.
It wasn’t to be for Newcastle with Sue and fellow backrower Chris Lawrence making a great try-saving tackle just moments later, holding up Korbin Sims over the line and an error followed.
Wests Tigers worked it up the field with Brooks drifting across his 20 metre line and linking up with his left winger in Rankin who was put through a gaping hole in the Knights line and strolled over in the 28th minute.
The former Hull FC and Gold Coast Titans player converted his own try from the sideline, making it a 10-6 lead for the visitors in the 29th minute.
Newcastle continued the try-for-try trend in the 36th minute when Hodkinson dummied his way through the Wests Tigers’ defensive line and found Korbin Sims who scored under the posts.
Hodkinson slotted the easy conversion to put the Knights ahead 12-10 with just under three minutes left until the half time break.
Tempers flared between Farah and Newcastle winger Nathan Ross, however the home side went into the break with a two-point advantage after an entertaining first 40 minutes at Hunter Stadium.
The feeling between the two sides continued into the opening stages of the second half when Seumanufagai was hit high by Korbin Sims and the pair came together in a heated exchange.
A very contentious play by Newcastle in the 48th minute where Korbin Sims kicked a second ball at Rankin, who was attempting to catch a Hodkinson bomb and the ball was spilled.
The home side took advantage of the decision, with Ross scoring in the left corner and Hodkinson converting the try to make it 18-10 after 49 minutes.
Wests Tigers worked their way back in the match and capitalised on another overlap on the left edge with Rankin scoring his second try of the game from a Tedesco tip-on in the 55th minute.
Rankin had his third attempt of the game from the sideline, nailing the conversion to reduce the deficit to 18-16.
Wests Tigers were dealt a blow in the 62nd minute when skipper Aaron Woods limped from the field with a knee injury, adding to the fact that Sue had not returned to the field after half time due to concussion.
Newcastle were denied a try to Uate by the video ref with four minutes to play, with a knock-on correctly ruled in the lead-up.
Wests Tigers will look to turn it around in front of a home crowd next weekend as Sunday afternoon football returns at Leichhardt Oval against the Melbourne Storm.
Newcastle Knights 18 (Uate, Sims, Ross tries; Hodkinson 3/3 conversions) defeated Wests Tigers 16 (Rankin 2, Tedesco tries; Rankin 2/3 goals)