Sat 11 March 2017
McDonald Jones Stadium - Crowd: 12869

Knights break losing streak with gutsy home victory

The Knights, on a losing streak of 19 carrying over from last season, were desperate to get a win at home in Round 2 at McDonald Jones Stadium. The Gold Coast Titans, coming off a week where their new star full back was getting way too much attention were also looking for their first win.

The opening 15 minutes saw each team feeling each other out, but the Knights had the run of the ball with some solid runs from Daniel Saifiti and new hooker, Karl Lawton.

It took until the 18th minute for the first controversial bunker decision of the day. Knights' fullback, Brendan Elliott was given a try after looking to lose control of the ball over the line. 

The second try, 6 minutes later, was more convincing as a great short ball from lock, Mitchell Barnett, put Jack Stockwell in. The conversion gave the Knights a 12-0 lead and with all of the momentum.

Penalties from the Titans were hurting them and didn't appear to be troubling the Knights defence.

It took some Anthony Don magic to create the Titans first points. With a kick to the right wing, Don launched himself at the ball in the corner flicking it back to a waiting Konrad Hurrell, who planted it down. Unfortunately for the Titans, Jarryd Hayne injured his ankle in the play and would not return.

The Knights were denied a try just minutes later after Ken Sio appeared to have scored from a deft kick to the right wing, but he was half a metre offside after going to the bunker.

It was the Titans what scored next to tie up the game. Karl Lawton picked up a scrappy Ashley Taylor offload and strolled over for a simple try through some sleepy Knights defence. The Titans were taking their opportunities when it mattered.

Injuries would hurt the Titans though as Anthony Don clutched at his chest in real pain after an attempted tackle. His pectoral muscle injury along with Hayne's ankle and Lawton's dislocated shoulder meant a depleted bench for the visitors.

The bunker was brought into the game again minutes later as it appeared Peter Mata'utia had crossed for the Knights. A lengthy replay process later and the video referee, Jared Maxwell, ruled no try and knock on from Nathan Ross. Another dubious decision.

Again, the Titans took their chances right on half-time with a try to debutante Tyrone Roberts-Davis who dived over in the left corner. The Knights would go to the break four points up, 16-12.

The Knights were determined to stay in touch in the second half. Just four minutes in, Nathan Ross crossed for his first of the afternoon after a speculative pass from Mitch Barnett. This levelled the scores.

At the 49th minute, the try of the year (so far) happened. The Titans, on the last after regathering a kick down-field, threw the ball around between no less than 15 hands. Tyrone Roberts was involved multiple times, along with Hurrell as, in desperation, the Titans kept it alive. A kick to the left wing was regathered and passed to Joe Greenwood who crossed over to score. A lengthy bunker check ensued, but to the Knights dismay, it was given. It has to been seen to be believed!

The Knights didn't put their heads down and Sam Stone scored his first ever try after a great short ball from Brock Lamb. The Titans weren't doing themselves any favours with repeated errors and infringements, but Ashley Taylor kept them in it with a huge 40/20 kick with 20 minutes to go. The resulting field position lead to a penalty against the Knights and the Titans would tie it up with a goal.

The next 10 minutes could have gone either way as the Knights forced the Titans over the sideline and subsequently the Titans holding the opposition out just as well. A possible strip from Nathan Ross was deemed to be illegal, although the replays were inconclusive and two minutes later, the Titans scored through a nifty chip kick from Taylor that gave Hurrell the easiest of tries.

A couple of unforced errors from the Titans with a knock-on and kick out on the full from Roberts gave the Knights a sniff and they went for it. Peter Mata'utia supported well in the middle of the ruck and scored off a nice ball from Hodkinson. This put the Knights in the lead with 4 minutes to go and they weren't finished!

A loose pass from the Titans in the shadow of full-time ended up in Ken Sio's hands and the ball travelled to the left-hand edge where Nathan Ross finished it off with a double.

The Newcastle Knights picked up the win, their first since Round 6 in 2016, in front of 12,869 fans. Although the Titans were down to a one-man bench in the second half, they put in a gutsy effort, but fatigue and ill-timed errors cost them the game.

The Knights will look to double-up with a home clash against the Rabbitohs next Saturday afternoon, whilst the Eels will nervously await injury reports on Hayne, Don and Lawton over the coming week before their Friday night clash with the Parramatta Eels.

3. Nathan Ross

Double try scorer and was pushing hard all game. Unlucky not to have grabbed a hat-trick.

2. Trent Hodkinson

Was instrumental in the important plays and kicked 5 from 6. Orchestrated the middle of the field well.

1. Mitchell Barnett

Set up a couple of tries with his passes and was very involved. Solid game from the lock