The Newtown Jets have stolen a thrilling 22-19 victory over the Newcastle Knights in difficult conditions at Hunter Stadium. With the Jets taking their fixture to the Broadmeadow venue, they were right at home to get away with a vital victory.
A Lachlan Stein try in the 78th minute secured the two points for the Jets, with Man Of The Match Kurt Capewell and Jaline Graham also playing admirably.
The rain had cleared but the surface was still slippery - proven by Jaelen Feeney six minutes into the contest. The Knights five-eighth put through a neat grubber close to the Jets' line and snuck past Jaline Graham to ground the football and bring about the early six-point lead.
Ten minutes later it was Kurt Capewell's turn, with the big centre busting a tackle to take a four-pointer next to the posts. He converted his own try and locked scores up after 17 minutes. Capwell came up with another break moments later and while it didn't result in points, he had all the intent to cross again.
Penalties went to either side but Newcastle were visibly worse off in defence; in the 27th minute Kenny Niko picked up two defenders and carried them into the in-goal, planting the ball down to give his side the lead. It was 12-6 in favour of the Jets.
The Knights hit back, however, with Tyme Dow-Nikau coming up with the try of the day. The centre angled inside and bumped off Jacob Gagan, before taking on Saulala Houma and reaching out to score. Things were even once again with the successful conversion.
Pat Mata-utia looked certain to make it back-to-back Newcastle tries when he found space and opted to go himself. A try-saver from Graham forced an error, however, putting the Jets back on the attack. Gagan came up with two more linebreaks late in the half, but couldn't convert it into points. With a Newtown knock-on offering the Knights a final play on the stroke of half-time, Bryce Donovan slotted a field goal to edge ahead to 13-12 at the break.
The second stanza started poorly for the Knights; Will Pearsall put a kick out on the full to hand the Jets dangerous field position, and Graham and Capewell combined brilliantly for a deserved Graham try. Arana Taumata found space soon after but bundled an opportunity, before the Knights moved up field thanks to some Pearsall brilliance. Some enterprising second-phase play eventually allowed Ken Tofilau to cross in the corner and with a pin-point conversion from Donovan, the Knights regained their one-point advantage.
Despite the wet weather, the game was opening up and both sides had their chances. With 12 minutes remaining, Newtown had a golden opportunity to edge ahead thanks to a Josh Cleeland chip-and-chase, but the five-eighth put the ball down in regathering it.
Serveral errors featured in the late part of the game and while the Knights' defence was holding strong, it would eventually be broken. In the 78th minute, the 'home' side shifted play from the eastern touch line to the western one, before Taumata put his centre Lachlan Stein through a gap to score the matchwinner. Capewell's attempted conversion hit the upright and while the Knights had one last chance to steal a victory, they were unable and scores would remain 22-19 at full-time.