The Newcastle Knights survived a late scare to clinch a 34-22 win against Mounties who slumped to their fourth loss in their past five matches.
The Knights were determined to snap their two-game losing streak and make amends for last week’s loss after surrendering a 16-4 halftime lead in a top-four clash against the New Zealand Warriors.
The Knights were relentless in the opening stanza as they scored back-to-back tries with their first opportunities in attack as a lovely cut out pass found Chanel Mata’utia who barrelled his way over the try line in the third minute. Chad Redman then added the second try with a simple dive from dummy half to give the Knights a 10-0 lead after five minutes.
Mounties had no answers for the Knights’ early onslaught as they conceded several penalties to gift field position again. The Knights scored their third try when Jaelen Feeney picked up a loose ball to find Jake Mamo running through a wide-open gap to stroll over the line for a 16-0 lead.
Mounties answered back with consecutive tries of their own. Centre Jeremy Hawkins showcased his strength to power over the try line before Jack Ahearn slotted the conversion from out wide. Hawkins was at it again on the following set as he shrugged off two would-be defenders to pass back on the inside and set up Bill Tupou to score before being burrowed over the sideline.
After a seemingly hopeless situation for Mounties, it was suddenly game on with the scores at 16-10 after 26 minutes.
The Knights showed poise to respond, forcing a drop out that set them up to score and extend their lead to 22-10 with ten minutes remaining in the half. Redman and Feeney linked together to set up Mata’utia who found Kerrod Holland on his outside to score untouched.
Mounties came out after halftime looking more threatening but the Knights seized momentum with back-to-back tries again. Kerrod Holland caught an intercept pass from his own end to race 85 metres to score before he was on the receiving end again with his third try of the afternoon. Joseph Tapine persistently terrorised Mounties with his offloads as he sent Mata’utia down the sideline before passing to Holland as the Knights extended their lead to 32-10 with 28 minutes remaining.
Mounties enjoyed the majority of second half possession but grew in frustration before Kyle O’Donnell and Lachlan Fitzgibbon were sin binned in the 63rd minute.
With both sides reduced to 12 men, Mounties finally wore down the Knights to score two tries in the final fifteen minutes.
Josh McCrone ran at the line to force his way over for Mounties to score and trail 32-16 with 14 minutes left. Gus Aiga then sped 60 metres displaying phenomenal footwork before Pat Mataele scored to give Mounties hope of a miraculous comeback with the scores at 32-22 with ten minutes left.
However, the Knights kicked a penalty goal after the fulltime siren to retain a top-four position while Mounties desperately search for answers to recover their top-of-the-table form.
Newcastle Knights 34 (K Holland 3, C Mata'utia, J Mamo, C Redmond tries; K Holland 5 goals) beat Mounties 22 (B Tupou, P Mataele, J Hawkins, J McCrone tries: M Cornish 3 goals)