Mounties have moved back to the top of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW table with a scrappy 33-22 win over a game Newcastle Knights outfit at Aubrey Keech Reserve this afternoon.
In a match where the Knights tested the Mulga for long periods, the class of Man Of The Match Sam Williams was the difference between the two sides.
After a tight opening period, it was the Knights who settled down first when centre Pat Mata’utia opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Bryce Donovan converted and Newcastle led 6-nil.
Mounties replied through Adam Clydsdale from close range in the 20th minute to level up at 6-all with Williams’ conversion.
The visitors had the better of the next 15 minutes against a lacklustre Mounties side and were rewarded when winger Matt Soper-Lawler pounced on a Alofi Mataele dropped ball in goal to score his first try to regain the Knights’ lead at 10-6.
Mounties’ problems were compounded when journeyman centre Cameron Phelps suffered a suspected broken jaw in a tackle in the lead up to the Soper-Lawler try.
Williams then sparked the Mulga first half response when he set up fullback Zac Santo for Mounties’ second try to regain the lead at 12-10 with the conversion.
Mounties interchange forward Royce Hunt then crashed over from close range to give the home side an 18-10 half time lead with another Williams conversion.
When Intrust Super Premiership leading try scorer Kato Ottio scored his 16th try of the season two minutes into the second half it appeared that the Mulga were running away with the game at 24-10 after William’ touchline conversion.
The Knights had other ideas and when big Pauli Pauli burst over four minutes later the contest was back on at 24-16 with Donovan’s conversion.
Both sides had chances as the match developed into an arm wrestle for the next 20 mintues before interchange centre Pat Mataele scored from close range after sustained Mulga buildup to extend the lead to 28-16.
The Knights gave themselves another shout at the upset of the season when Sope-Lawler finished off goog lead up work from David Bhana to score his second try with 12 minutes left after Donovan nailed the touch line conversion to bring the scores back to 28-22.
Williams then calmly potted a field goal with seven minutes left to give Mounties a seven-point cushion, before a long cut out pass from the half set up Ottio’s second try – and his 17th of the season – in the final minute to finally put the game to bed against the plucky Knights.
Now back on top of the table, Mounties play their catch up match against Canterbury-Bankstown from Round 13 next Saturday at the Belmore Sports Ground, while the Knights will host the Wentworthville Magpies at Hunter Stadium next Sunday.