Newcastle left it to the dying seconds to pinch an unbelievable 24-20 victory at the first-ever Intrust Super Premiership NSW game at Peacock Field.
Both sides were in need of a win for different reasons. The Knights were yet to open their 2017 account whilst a win for Wentworthville would keep them in the top eight.
Newcastle kicked off towards the southern end of the ground and soon had possession in Wentworthville’s half. The Knights looked anything but a team that was zero and three as they dominated the opening exchanges. It was all Newcastle and they soon had two tries in the opening 10 minutes of play.
First, a cross kick from William Pearsall found his mark with a leaping Thomas Hughes scoring to the left of the posts. Minutes later Hughes showed great pace to run around the defence to score out wide. Kainoa Gudgeon converted both tries for a 12-0 lead to the Knights after 11 minutes.
That was all the Knights had in the first half as Wentworthville regrouped and scored their first try thanks to a lovely short pass from Jamal Fogarty to put Nathan Davis over. Fogarty added the extras to reduce the margin to six points.
All of a sudden the Magpies were looking the better side. Two chances went begging in quick succession, but it was third time lucky when Bureta Faraimo was on the end of a backline movement to score in the corner.
If the opening 10 minutes was all the Knights, then the final 30 of the first half was all the Magpies. A weight of possession in the Knights half allowed Faraimo to cross for his second. Forgarty converted with a beautiful kick from the sideline and Wentworthville were now in the lead 16-12.
The Knights had limited opportunity in the Magpies half but when they did, something looked on, only for the last pass to go astray.
The half-time siren sounded and Wentworthville would go into the sheds leading 16-12.
The second half did not start with too much excitement. Both sides were guilty of giving away possession in what could only be described as a scrappy opening 10 minutes.
Another mistake by the Knights in their own twenty gifted Wentworthville the perfect attacking opportunity. Kirisome Auva’a barged his way over the line to score his sides fourth of the afternoon and Wentworthville led 20-12.
That try seemed to wake the visitors up. Sam Gorman was finding plenty of space out of dummy-half and Troy Dargan had the ball on a string.
If being down by eight on the scoreboard was not bad enough, the Knights were also behind in troops with hooker Tom Starling sin-binned for a professional foul and Thomas Hughes out for the rest of the match with a calf injury. If the Knights were to record their first win of 2017, it would be an almighty effort.
The silver haired Knights supporters tried to get behind their team, applauding every mistake the Magpies made.
Wentworthville were unlucky not to go further ahead when Auva’a, with barnstorming run ran out of space.
Newcastle were hanging in there and with two minutes to go pulled the unlikely win out of the hat. A try to Jacob Gagan which was converted by Gudgeon set up a grand stand finish. The Knights quickly marched up field from the restart and Tyler Randall put up a bomb which was fumbled by Scott Schuttle and found the arms of a Knights player. The ball went through the hands for Braden Robson to score the match winner. Gudgeon converted the try for a 24-20 win to the Knights. They are off the mark in 2017.
Newcastle Knights 24 (B Robson, J Gagan T Hughes 2 tries; K Gudgeon 4 goals) def Wentworthville Magpies 20 (B Faraimo 2, N Davis, K Auva’a tries; J Fogarty 2 goals)