The Wests Tigers have clawed their way to victory with a 33-12 win over Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium today.
Knights in 15th, Tigers in 16th. Both on 8 points. 34 in the points differential separate the two, it was the annual "Spoon Bowl"!
The unacquainted would have been confused upon kickoff with the Knights running out wearing their NSW Mining hi-vis orange jersey, forcing the Tigers into a white and black strip which also featured heavy amounts of orange. Confusion reigned!
Newcastle were boosted by the return of Trent Hodkinson before kickoff with Brock Lamb demoted to the Intrust Super Premiership, and began well in defence.
It was the visitors who got on the board first, with recent signing for the Tigers in Malakai Watene-Zelezniak opening up the scoring with a try out in the left wing in the 8th minute. Tuimoala Lolohea taking the infamous hop-skip stride, kicked the conversion to put the Tigers in front 6-0.
On the following set, Kevin Naiqama took a huge run down field, and tried to pass to David Nofoaluma, but it was a huge pass that didn't go to plan. It looked like a Tigers onslaught was looming. Next, Luke Brooks took an amazing run from a line break; the ball on its way to the line. He found Chris Lawrence, who found Lolohea, but unfortunately scraped the ball on the ground and it came loose as he was right at the line.
In the 24th minute, Tigers' hooker Jacob Liddle fooled the left and right defence of the Knights - and the Fox Sports cameraman - throwing two huge dummies, to dive over the line. The score at this point 12-0, and the game slipping away from the Knights quickly.
Within five more minutes, a quick try from the Wests Tigers after a ball from Brooks, to SuIi, to Naiqama. Kevin dived over, and the try was converted bringing the Tigers up 18-0.
Later in the half Daniel Saifiti blocked Kevin Naiqama from chasing the ball from the Tigers, and they took the penalty goal, lifting the score to 20-0. The Knights were far behind. What looked to be a try for Knights' Peter Mata'utia, was called a forward pass by referees - an unfortunate call as replays showed the ball being passed backward. Newcastle headed to the sheds at half time, down 20-0.
The second half began with strong sets from both sides. Two quick penalties in succession brought the Knights within distance of the Tigers' line, but unfortunately a wayward offload headed the way of away side.
54 minutes in, David Nofoaluma crossed the line after a strong run by Brooks, who found Naiqama, and finally, Nofoaluma redeems himself. Up 24-0 it was looking fairly dire for the Knights, but a try to Lachlan Fitzgibbon in the 62nd minute opened up the Knights' scoring, putting them into the game, 24-6.
Soon after in the 66th minute, a wonderful run by Dane Gagai, a chip over to Joe Wardle, and the Knights push themselves to 24-12 with a great try, keeping themselves in contention to win. Worryingly, the Tigers defence was collapsing as the Knights pushed on.
Luke Brooks kicked a successful Field Goal in the 77th minute to put the final nail in the coffin for the Knights. Mitch Barnett then took Brooks high which saw the visitors bag a penalty goal, and in the last minute, Brooks added a final try, Nofoaluma converting, and the Tigers win 33-12.
Next week the Knights head to Belmore to face the Bulldogs who will be missing their Origin players. Wests Tigers have a week off and return in Round 19.