Tigers Prevail In Newcastle
Wests Tigers had to fight for their win over Newcastle, coming from 10 points behind midway through the second half to wrap up a 30-28 victory at Hunter Stadium.
Newcastle began play with a short kick off, which backfired as Wests Tigers marched up field and scored three plays later thanks to Chance Peni. Justin Hunt added the extras for a perfect start.
Wests Tigers had their tails up and pushed forward again and almost came up with another try moments later. However, the Knights regrouped and hit back with a try of their own. Henry Penn got around his man and put Liam Faughlin away down the touch line. The Wests defence came and smashed Faughlin, but somehow the winger managed to put the ball down behind his back as he was in mid air.
Although there was some good defence from both sides, scoring was becoming easy. Wests had their second of the day when a nice grubber from Hunt put Tyler Cassel over. Hunt again added the extras for a 12-4 lead midway through the first half.
The bottom placed Knights were making a game of it though, and Jaelen Feeney delivered a short ball to Pauli Pauli, who barged his way over the line. Bryce Donovan added the extras to reduce the margin to 2 points.
Wests almost had their third try, but Faughlin managed to knock it dead. From the line drop out Newcastle got possession back after Fenney found touch. Newcastle were now playing with confidence and soon had their third try. Bryce Donovan got through some easy defence to score under the posts. Donovan then converted his try to give the Knights a 4 point lead.
Newcastle almost put another try on the visitors before half time but the pass went to ground and the Knights would go into half time leading 16-12.
It was sloppy opening to the second half with both sides guilty of handing the ball over.
The Knights best chance in the opening 10 minutes came when a nice back-line move put Ken Tofilau over but referee Mr. Smith ruled a forward pass.
Wests Tigers were doing a mountain of work in defence and they had to crack. Ben Stone put the Knights further ahead strolling over the under the posts. Donovan added the extras to put the Knights further ahead 22-12.
Wests Tigers were not done though, with Justin Hunt backing up from a break made by Luke Sharpe to go under the posts. Hunt made it 3 from 3 to reduce the gap to 4 points with 20 minutes to play.
The game was beginning to swing towards the Tigers. A break by Sharpe put the Knights on the back foot and Feeney was sent to the sinbin for a professional foul. From the penalty Wests levelled the score with Jayden Wheelhouse going over in the corner. The absence of Feeney would prove costly.
Wests Tigers soon had the lead when that man again, Luke Sharpe created something out of nothing. The little fullback ran 70 metres to score a brilliant individual try in the corner. Hunt made no mistake with the conversion, learning from his previous kick in a similar position to give the Tigers a 28-22 lead with just under 10 minutes of play remaining.
A thrilling finish was set up, and Newcastle almost hit back with Thomas Hughes. Feeney returned with 5 to go but it looked all too late for the home side. Wests were rewarded a penalty near the uprights which Hunt put between the posts with ease.
Feeney crossed for the Knights with Donovan converting to make the margin 2 points with less than 2 minutes on the clock. But it was all too late, with Wests Tigers hanging on in the last few moments for a 3-28 victory.