Wyong Spine Spread Their Wings
The Wyong Roos spine - including their interchange hooker - stepped up in what is a critical part of the season to hunt down an early Newcastle lead and win a 30-22 thriller.
Mitch Cornish and Jayden Nikorima were instrumental in the halves, Luke Sharpe was as devastating as ever, Mitch Williams put in a true captains knock and Grant Garvey made a massive impact off the bench in promising signs for the Roos just one week out from the finals.
Sharpe was up against Nick Meaney in the battle of the fullbacks at Morrie Breen Oval; two players in the running to make the Intrust Super Premiership NSW team of the year to be announced just after the season-proper.
For the Knights, it was Jaelen Feeney who stepped up to the plate for his side, scoring two early tries and having a hand in another before the half-time siren sounded.
Wyong started the match by piling the pressure on the visitors thanks to consecutive forced dropouts by Nikorima and Cornish, but it would be Newcastle to match-up field and post first points when Jaelen Feeney slipped through the defence to complete a left-side raid.
The Roos allowed repaid the favour shortly after by making good metres to give them into ideal field position, before Cornish showed his class when he held the ball up beautifully for Brock Gray to run a perfect line and crash over to lock the scores up.
The teams were going hit-for-hit as the first half got progressively older, with Feeney securing his second try in very similar fashion to his first; straightening into a hole as the ball was being shifted left.
Wyong looked to be next to score, but the quick pass from Sharpe to Kye Martin was deemed illegal, before Gray was belted a few minutes later and had to be taken off for a HIA.
Feeney was having a first-half to remember as he was involved in the next Newcastle try by holding up a ball for Bradie Smith, who had plenty of defenders to muscle his way through, and that’s exactly what he did to extend their lead to 18-6.
Sharpe forced a drop-out with a tidy kick to give Wyong a chance before half-time, and the electric fullback took it upon himself to reduce the deficit to six when he took on the line before throwing a perfectly timed pass for Paul Momirovski to score, which was the last play of the opening 40 minutes.
Wyong were able to post points on the other half of the half-time break as well, when Nikorima threw a long-ball for Johnny Tuivasa-Sheck to scoop up on his wing and bring the ball around for Momirovski to kick the score-equalling conversion.
The next part of the match was a tight tussle as both sides fought hard to capture the lead, and it would eventually be Wyong to do so when Grant Garvey steamrolled his way through from dummy half.
The entire Wyong spine were starting to spread their wings, and Cornish added an extra stamp on the contest when he stepped sharply off his left foot and accelerated through the Knights to score a brilliant solo try.
Newcastle hit back with just two minutes remaining when Tom Starling and Brendan Elliott combined before the latter turned it into Chanel Mata’utia to score, but the conversion was unsuccessful.
Wyong Roos 30 (B Gray, P Momirovski, J Tuivasa-Sheck, G Garvey, M Cornish tries; P Momirovski 5 goals) def Newcastle Knights 18 (J Feeney 2, B Smith, C Mata'utia tries; N Meaney 3 goals)