Knights To Remember!
The 2017 Harold Matthews Grand Final has been won in an extra-time thriller by Newcastle 26-20 against Manly at Leichhardt Oval.
The match see-sawed across the 60 minutes of regular play, with Manly holding a four-point lead into the final minute before a try in the dying seconds of regular time by Knights winger Malie-J Townsend saw the match enter extra time.
The Knights continued that momentum into the first period of extra time, with captain and lock Jaron Purcell crashing over to give his side a 24-20 lead. Max Buderus' conversion took Newcastle's lead to six.
First points of the day went to Keegan Turner, with the Sea Eagles centre darting over from dummy-half. The conversion attempt was waved away from out wide, but it was a healthy start for the Manly side.
The Sea Eagles kept coming and earned significant time in the Knights' danger zone, piling on successive sets and maintaining a high completion rate. Eventually it would result in another try, to Filimaua Filimaua-Tau in the 19th minute.
The Knights got on the board through Riley Meyn just before half time, who showed tremendous strength to cross the line.
The Sea Eagles, however responded just after the break through back-rower Joshua Schuster who slipped through some soft defence.
Newcastle, however, came surging back from 14-6 - scoring tries to Christian Ma'anaima and Meyn, who crossed for his second after Manly made an error off the back of a Max Buderus kick - to lead 16-14 midway through the second half.
But Albert Hopoate, one of the stars of the competition, had other ideas, charging through the middle of the field on an otherwise innocuous piece to play to burst into back field and score a 40-metre try. Hopoate's try and the conversion to halfback Daniel Ala took the score to 20-16.
Newcastle, however, ensured that wasn't the last scoring play of the day in their never-say-die effort that resulted in them winning the premiership.
Congratulations to all participants in the 2017 Harold Matthews competition - arguably the best of all-time.