The Wyong Roos came from behind to defeat the Newcastle Jets 28-26 in a derby featuring attacking flare, brutal defence and a heart-stopping finish.
Both sides made changes before kick-off, which included Knights water boy George Ndaira pulling on the boots and playing over 60 minutes.
Wyong looked the goods early and attacked the Knights’ try line creating an overlap but the play was snuffed out by Knights centre Honeti Tuha who intercepted and ran 90 metres to score.
Leading 4-nil after 10 minutes, the Knights were dealt a blow when hooker Dylan Phythian was carried from the field with a leg injury.
Shortly after, Susia Matagi charged over close to the posts for the Roos. Tyler Cornish converted the try to give the Roos a 6-4 lead.
Some ill discipline from both sides prevented a free-flowing game but when both teams were focused, there was terrific skill on show. Joseph Tapine used skill and strength to score the Knights’ second which Holland converted to take back the lead 10-6.
Moments later Newcastle extended their lead to eight points when Tuha scored his second of the afternoon.
Wyong just needed a little bit of luck and when the Knights allowed the ball to bounce from a kick in general play, Nathan Smith chased through and picked up the loose ball to score a great try to get the Roos back in the contest.
Down 14-12 at half time the Roos came out fin full steam in the second half and were rewarded with a try to Matt McIlwrick who was making a mark on the game.
It didn’t take long for the Knights to hit back though, as Honeti Tuha picked up a loose ball and ran away to claim his hat trick before leaving the field with a hamstring injury. Moments later, Pat Mata’utia crossed and the Knights led 26-16 with 15 minutes remaining. However, with only 15 players available and much fatigue, it was always going to be hard for the Knights to hang on.
Roos five-eighth Samisoni Langi was best on field and got his side back in the match with a try in the 70th minute. A pressure kick was landed by Cornish to reduce the margin to 4 points, which set up a nail-biting finish.
With their tails up and the wind behind their back, the Roos were making easy metres. The Knights were out on their feet, which allowed Nathan Smith to cut his way through to tie the game up. Cornish handled the pressure conversion to give Wyong a two-point lead.
Newcastle tried frantically in the dying moments but it was not to be. Wyong had come from behind twice to take a memorable derby victory 28-26.
Wyong Roos 28 (Nathan Smith 2, Samisoni Langi, Susia Matagi & Matt McIlwrick tries; Tyler Cornish 4 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 26 (Honeti Tuha 3, Pat Mata’utia & Joseph Tapine tries; Kerrod Holland 3 goals) at No. 2 Sports Ground.