Magpies fall to Knights second half surge
An incredible late surge saw the Newcastle Knights overcome a 14-0 deficit with only 25 minutes remaining, scoring 22 unanswered points against the Wentworthville Magpies and record their first victory of the season.
The defending premiers had a disappointing start to the 2016 season, and while they certainly did not put in an 80-minute performance against the Magpies, the Matt Lantry coached side would be extremely happy with the two competition points.
Honeti Tuha was instrumental at fullback in a losing side against his former club, while his opposite number, Jaelen Feeney was vocal and superb in directing the Newcastle players around defensively.
An immediate 40/20 by Luke Kelly gave the Magpies an early chance, but some wonderful scrambling defence by the Knights prevented a try-scoring opportunity on the right edge.
After 15 minutes, both sides had failed to cash in on various opportunities, until Scott Schulte finally opened the scoring for the Magpies. Kelly shaped to kick on the fifth tackle, but instead shifted the ball to Mitch Cornish, who passed for Tuha to perfectly grubber for the eventual try-scorer.
Vai Toutai was brought down after a strong charge before the line, but the defensive effort was to no avail, as Bureta Faraimo took advantage of some poor marker work at dummy half and muscled his way over to extend the Magpies lead to 10-0.
Faraimo though he had his second a matter of minutes later, but the bullet cut-out pass from Kelly was ruled to have gone forward.
The Knights finally got their chance to attack, but their opportunity turned into a disaster in a matter of seconds, when Will Pearsall dropped the ball while attempting to kick, before Schulte picked the ball up and showed tremendous speed in his 90-metre dash against the run of play to score his second try.
Kurt Aldridge went close for the Knights but was held-up, before some nice work by Faraimo denied Bryce Donovan a late first-half try in the left corner.
The second half began as an even contest, however the Knights continued their trend of blown close opportunities when Matt Soper-Lawler was only centimetres short of scoring a superman-effort try in the right corner.
Newcastle forward Ben Stone reluctantly came off the field with a suspected dislocated thumb, and showed incredible toughness on the sideline, pleading with the trainer to pop it back in so an interchange would not have to be wasted.
After numerous shots at the try-line, the Knights finally got on the board when Dylan Phythian put a grubber through after a quick play the ball for lock forward Takina Vailea to win the race and score, decreasing the deficit to 14-6.
Suddenly, the Knights were back in the contest after Will Pearsall barged over from dummy half to score in the set that followed the previous try. The conversion was unsuccessful and the score remained 14-10 with 15 minutes remaining.
The Knights had all the momentum, and unlike the earlier stages of the match, they cashed in on a golden try-scoring chance when Danny Kerr pounced on the ball to give the visitors the lead for the first time.
After a frantic and desperate final few minutes from both sides, Feeney put the game to bed after he scored a try inside the final 60 seconds, giving the Knights a 22-14 victory, and effectively, recorded their first win of the season.
While only one team got the result, neither team can be disheartened with the effort that was left out on Ringrose Park for 80 minutes, with ball control being the downfall of both sides.
Newcastle Knights 22 (T Vailea, W Pearsall, D Kerr, J Feeney tries; B Donovan 3 goals)
Wentworthville Magpies 14 (S Schulte 2, B Faraimo tries; L Kelly goal)