It was yet another heart-breaking loss for the Newcastle Knights this afternoon, as the Wests Tigers stole the game to win 23-20 in front of 22173 fans at Hunter Stadium.
The Tigers came out strongly from the very start of the game. Pat Richards put one of his trademark kick-offs into effect, and James Tedesco stole the ball to put his team on the front foot immediately. This put the Knights on notice, and the Tigers managed to cross the line to score after only six minutes. They were all over the Knights for the first quarter of the game, offloading almost at will. The Knights had no answers for the second phase play, and were beginning to tire pretty rapidly.
The rest of the game was more about the Knights though. Solid defense in the first half led to first half tries to Akuila Uate and Tyrone Roberts, and the Knights led by 10-8 at the break.
Injuries to Braith Anasta, Liam Fulton, Chris Lawrence and Curtis Sironen really tested the Tigers. BJ Leilua also left the field after a throat injury in the first half.
In the second half, the Tigers scored early to take the lead, before the Knights hit back through another try to Uate ten minutes later. The Knights completion rate was great in the second half, but a period of defensive lapses with 10 minutes to go let the Tigers back into the game.
Kurt Gidley was sin binned in the 65th minute, after commiting a professional foul after the Tigers kicked a 40/20. Richards kicked a penalty goal to tie the game up.
A few minutes later, James Tedesco took full advantage of his team's extra player, as he put Chris Lawrence over for a tidy little try, before Pat Richards took the game away from the Knights, firstly through the conversion, and secondly with a field goal that, realistically, he should not have had the opportunity to kick.
The Knights scored a late try through Uate, and declined the conversion attempt, instead opting to give themselves an extra attacking set, but it was to no avail, as the Tigers held on to steal the game.