By Jamie Anderson at Leichhardt Oval
The Newcastle Knights were the first side through to the 2014 preliminary finals when they clinically accounted for the Wentworthville Magpies 24-12 at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
The Knights have now won eight matches in a row, and with a week’s break, and the likelihood of getting one or two players back from first grade, the Knights have positioned themselves as the Panthers biggest threat for the 2014 VB NSW Cup title.
Despite running into a stiff breeze for the first forty minutes, it was the side from Newcastle that opened the scoring in the 10th minute when they looked to attack down the short side only for Michael Dobson to hook his kick back towards the posts where Nathan Ross jumped out of the ground in time to ground the ball inside the dead ball line.
But for the next ten minutes or so it was all Wenty as they used the breeze to dominate field position, and they looked to have their first try in the 18th minute however the Knights defence managed to hold up Lorenzo Ma’afu in goal.
Wenty kept the pressure on the Knights with several back to back sets however the team in red and blue would not buckle and continued to repel the Magpies attack.
But eventually the pressure took its toll, and in the 27th minute Justin Hunt turned a ball inside to KJ MacKenzie who hit it at speed and busted the line and scampered some 20 metres to get Wenty on the board.
The 6-6 deadlock wouldn’t last for long though as Wenty handed the Knights the ball back from the ensuing kick-off and they needed no further invitation to score points as Nathan Ross bullocked his way over from close range to grab his second of the day and 18th of the season.
With the Knights leading it 12-6 at half time, Wenty knew they would be up against running into the wind for the second forty and they would certainly need a much faster start than what they showed in the first half.
But once again it was the Knights who showed all of the energy as they posted the first two tries of the second stanza to affectively shut Wenty out of the match.
Big Toka Likiliki burst through the Magpies defensive line in the 49th minute and found a supporting Michael Dobson who did the rest and then in the 57th minute it was Brayden Wiliame who crossed after series of nice crisp passing.
The match really fizzled out over the final 20 minutes however Jake Butler Fleming did grab a consolation try for Wenty in the shadows of the full time siren.
The Knights have earned a weekend off and will await the winner of the Cutters and Warriors while Wenty are back in action once again this Sunday when they take on a confident Wyong outfit at Leichhardt Oval at 4pm.
Newcastle Knights 24 (N Ross 2, B Wiliame, M Dobson tries; J Mantellato 4 goals) def. Wentworthville Magpies 12 (KJ MacKenzie, J Butler Fleming tries; L Kelly 2 goals) at Leichhardt Oval.