An inspired performance from maligned half Jackson Hastings was not enough to see the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles to a win in Round 10 of the Intrust Super Premiership, falling to the Newcastle Knights to the tune of 28-22.
Match: Sea Eagles v Knights
Round 10 -
Venue: HE Laybutt Field
Making his fourth appearance in the Blacktown colours this season – and his third since being unceremoniously dumped from the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles' NRL outfit – Hastings oozed confidence throughout the two-point loss.
But the brave Knights – who were forced to play with 16 men for all-but the entirety of the clash, following a sickening head injury to hooker Tom Starling from the match's commencement – overcame Hastings' individual brilliance to record their third win of the season.
Returning to HE Laybutt Field for the first time since the side's Round 5 loss to the Wentworthville Magpies, Blacktown wasted little time in troubling the scorers.
Upon the resumption from the Starling knock, Winger Vai Toutai scooted his way over the line to finish a well-worked backline shift with under a minute played – touching down for the first try of the afternoon with barely 60 seconds expired.
Kicking into a strong breeze, Hastings saw the touch judges' flags into the air with his arrow-straight conversion, and Blacktown lead 6-0.
Barnstorming prop Tof Sipley charged his way in to score (12th) as the Sea Eagles maintained their early momentum. Hastings' shot on goal was, unlike his first, waved away and the score remained 10-0.
Toutai's fellow flanker Maliko Filino (29th) crossed to score the side's third-straight try, extending Blacktown's lead to 14.
Needing a spark, the Knights turned to young five-eighth Jack Johns – the pivot playing a leading hand in sending Cory Denniss into score (18th) before working his way over the line (37th) for a try of his own, close to half-time, to lessen the deficit to just four points.
Taking the momentum into the sheds, the Knights returned to action with all the running – and they hit the front courtesy of Chris Randall's try (49th) after the change of ends. Johns converted to take the Knights to a 16-14 front.
Blacktown would level the scores courtesy of a penalty goal in the 54th minute, but again the Knights would hit the front when Johns responded in kind, an hour gone.
Leading by two inside the final quarter, Brent Naden struck a telling blow with his 65th minute try, and again Johns converted to extend Newcastle's lead further. The conversion – the 20-year-old's third – sent his side out by an important eight-point margin.
The Sea Eagles weren't done with yet, however, and a 72nd-minute try to Jacob Loko set up the grandstand finish. The usual centre, who found himself in the middle after coming off the bench, burrowed over from close range to keep his side in the contest, converted for a 23-22 scoreline.
Time was not on Blacktown's side and when the Knights next got the chance to put the game to bed, they made no mistake; two minutes from full-time, centre Brayden Musgrove sliced through for the final try, resulting in a 28-22 win for Newcastle.