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It took a last-minute, pin-point kick from Jamie Buhrer to seal the deal, but the Newcastle Knights have snatched a win away from the Wests Tigers 22-20, in front of a packed house at Tamworth this evening.
Both sides started the game well, with a completion rate of almost 100%, and some entertaining end to end football.
The Knights were first to score through Ken Sio in the 21st minute, with the cut out pass from Ponga to set it up a familiar story for Knights fans. Ponga failed to convert - the first of a number of missed conversions.
Mitchell Pearce was next to score, with an incisive run back on the inside seeing him score almost untouched under the posts. This time, Ponga kicked the conversion, taking his side to 10 points in front.
The Knights went to the break leading 10 nil - a points tally already higher than any other against the Tigers this season.
The start of the second half was a different story. The Tigers scored early in the half, with a try to Michael Chee Kam, before back-to-back converted tries to both Kevin Naiqama and Corey Thompson saw the Tigers jump to 18 points, and take the lead before the 50th minute.
Despite a second try to Ken Sio in the 60th minute, a penalty goal to Esan Marsters in the 66th minute saw the Knights still trail by six late in the second half.
Ken Sio completed his hat trick in the 71st minute after a lovely pass from Lachlan Fitzgibbon, but another missed conversion by Ponga left the Knights down by two.
And at that point, you could be forgiven for thinking the game was over, especially when Mitchell Pearce left the field for a head injury assessment moments later.
But it was a Jamie Buhrer kick that snatched the win for the Knights in the last minute. On the last play, with only a minute left on the clock, Buhrer sailed a kick across field, and straight into the arms of Shaun Kenny-dowall, who muscled over for the try.
Final score - Knights 22, Tigers 20.
Wests Tigers 20 - Newcastle Knights 22
Venue: Scully Park
Halftime Score: Wests Tigers 0 Newcastle Knights 10
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Mitchell Pearce
2 points - Kalyn Ponga
1 points - Benji Marshall
WESTS TIGERS (20)
Tries: Michael Chee Kam, Kevin Naiqama, Corey Thompson
Conversions: Esan Marsters (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Esan Marsters (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (22)
Tries: Ken Sio (3), Mitchell Pearce, Shaun Kenny-dowall
Conversions: Kalyn Ponga (1/4), Ken Sio (0/1)
Penalty Goals: Kalyn Ponga (0/1)