The Newcastle Knights have maintained their position inside the Intrust Super Premiership NSW top eight with a comfortable 46-18 win over the Wests Tigers in the match played at Cessnock Sports Ground this evening.
With Brock Lamb reuniting with long-time sparring partner Jack Cogger in the halves following Trent Hodkinson’s mooted NRL return, the Knights were in control for most of the contest.
After dominating early possession, Newcastle hooker Tyler Randall burrowed over from dummy-half in the fourth minute to score the opening try. Brock Lamb converted to give the Knights an early 6-0 lead.
Six minutes later, a long break by Knights fullback Nick Meaney was stopped just short of the Tigers’ goal line by the desperate visitors’ cover defence. Two tackles later, lock Tyrone Amey crashed over from close range near the posts. Lamb added the extras for a 12-0 lead.
In the Tigers’ first meaningful attack of the match, a neat JJ Felise pass put fellow prop Wes Lolo into a gap. Lolo in turn sent half Jack Littlejohn away for the Tigers’ first try next to the uprights. Veiru Mapesone converted to bring the Tigers back to a 12-6 deficit.
Five minutes later, after working into field position on the back of a penalty, Knights centre Jacob Gagan burst over from dummy-half down a short right side blind to score the Knights’ third try for a 16-6 lead.
A forward pass from Mapesone to Tigers winger Luke Garner in what was the visitors’ last attack of the first half then sparked a wave of Newcastle attack either side of half time that virtually won the Knights the match.
From the scrum following the forward pass with seven minutes left in the half, a Randall break found Knights winger Tom Cronan down the right before being tackled just short of the Tigers’ goal line.
On the next play, Lamb and Cogger switched the attack across the field for opposite winger Tom Hughes to finish off the sweeping movement with his 14th try of the season in the left corner. Lamb nailed the conversion from the touch line to give the Knights a 22-6 lead.
After getting another penalty from the restart set, the Knights made it two tries in three minutes when second-rower Braden Robson burst through some poor goal-line defence by the backpedalling Tigers to score. Lamb’s conversion extended the Newcastle lead to 28-6.
Then on the stroke of half-time, a Cogger grubber kick in-goal was plucked out of the air by Lamb to score just before he crossed the dead-ball line. Lamb converted his own try after the half-time siren to give the Knights a commanding 34-6 lead at the break.
Things didn’t get better for the hapless Tigers at the start of the second half. After Felise dropped the ball in the third tackle after the restart, the Knights worked field position for Cogger to win the race himself to another in goal grubber kick through a host of players to score.
Lamb converted and the Knights threatened to turn the match into a rout at 40-6.
To their credit, the Tigers got the next two tries to stem the scoreboard bleeding.
First, interchange prop Jordan Grant burst clear behind the marker in the 49th minute and then showed good pace for a big man as he dashed 30 metres to score. Mapesone’s conversion got the Tigers into double figures at 40-12.
After getting field position from a penalty in the restart set, a clever Littlejohn inside pass sent fellow interchange prop Junior Tatola away to stroll over under the posts. Mapesone added the extras to make scores 40-18.
The Knights scored the last try of the match in the 58th minute when another long Meaney break was superbly stopped by opposite number Watson Heleta in desperate cover defence. On the next tackle, a long Lamb cut out pass found centre Chanel Mata’utia unmarked on the left to score the easiest of tries. Lamb added the extras to complete the scoring for the night at 46-18.
The Tigers dominated field position and possession for the bulk of the last 20 minutes for no result – with the only incident of note seeing Knights forward Pauli Pauli placed on report by referee Daniel Olford for a late hit on Littlejohn with 13 minutes left.
Newcastle will look to stay in the top eight when they take on Canterbury-Bankstown at Belmore Sports Ground next Sunday as the curtain-raiser to the NRL clash between the two sides.
The Tigers have a bye next weekend before their next assignment against Penrith at St Marys on 16 July.
Newcastle Knights 46 (T Randell, T Amey, J Gagan, T Hughes, B Robson, B Lamb, J Cogger, C Mata'utia tries; B Lamb 7 goals) def Wests Tigers 18 (J Littlejohn, J Grant, T Tatola tries; V Mapesone 3 goals)