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Agony turns to ecstasy as Knights end Tigers season
After trailing 24-12, the last-placed Knights scored two tries in the final five minutes to even the scores. Then in dramatic circumstances, the visitors received a penalty on the stroke of full time. Knights full back Kurt Gidley kicked the match winner to end any finals hopes for the ninth-placed Wests Tigers.
The result effectively decides the top eight and paves the way for the Brisbane Broncos in eighth position, the reigning premiers equal with Wests Tigers on 24 points but with a superior for-and-against and a match in hand.
The victory ends a controversial week for the embattled Knights with legend Andrew Johns making headline news after admitting to taking ecstasy and "other drugs" throughout his 12-year career at the club.
The match tonight saw Wests Tigers start on the front foot and race away to a 12-0 lead after 23 minutes.
Newcastle struck back just before the break and at half time, Wests Tigers were holding onto a 12-6 lead.
Wests Tigers stepped up a gear in the second half to lead 24-12 at the 67th mark.
But the Knights came back with a try to Gidley in the 74th minute before winger Cooper Vuna crossed for another four-pointer in the 78th minute. Gidley's conversion made it 24-all and golden point extra time was on the cards.
But Wests Tigers were penalised in the 80th minute, providing Gidley with the opportunity to kick the winning goal from 32 metres out.
With the full time siren sounding, a stunned Wests Tigers team looked on as the ball sailed through the uprights to end their season.
The victory gives the Knights a fighting chance of avoiding the wooden spoon this year, but supporters will be looking on anxiously at tomorrow's Panthers v Warriors clash. Cellar dwellers the Panthers only need to stage a similar upset to leap-frog the Knights.
Match Details Round 25 - Full Time :: August 31st, 2007 07:30 PM Venue: Telstra Stadium Crowd: 13,446 Referee: Paul Simpkins Half time: Tigers 12-6
Wests Tigers 24 Tries: John Morris, Benji Marshall (2), Chris Lawrence Field Goals: Benji Marshall (0/1) Goals: Benji Marshall (4/5) Newcastle Knights 26 Tries: Cory Paterson, Cooper Vuna (2), Kurt Gidley Goals: Kurt Gidley (5/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary 3 min: The match is underway with Wests Tigers doing most of the attacking in the opening minutes.
10 min: Still 0-0. The Wests Tigers have received three penalties to the Knights' nil.
16 min: TRY Wests Tigers Five eighth John Morris scores for the Wests Tigers. Comes on the back of sustained pressure. Follows a kick from hooker Robbie Farah and video ref scruntiny over race for the grounding. Conversion attempt by halfback Benji Marshall is successful. Wests Tigers 6-0
18 min: Winger Cooper Vuna makes a big break for the Knights.
23 min: TRY Wests Tigers Benji Marshall scores and converts to put the Tigers up by 12, Marshall kicking ahead and regathering after the ball hit the uprights. Wests Tigers 12-0
28 min: Five eighth Chris Bailey makes handy line break for the Knights.
30 min: Still 12-0 to the home side. Wests Tigers doing it nicely with a high completion rate.
35 min: Still 12-0 to the Wests Tigers.
38 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Cory Paterson scores as the Knights step up with some more go forward and the flow of possession evens out. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Wests Tigers 12-6
Half time: Tigers 12-6 A very tight game late in the half after the Wests Tigers jumped out to an early lead. Both sides have had their opportunities. Knights have had to do a lot of tackling but gained the ascendancy late in the half and are not done with yet.
Second half underway...
42 min: ON REPORT - Second rower Chris Heighington (Tigers) for a high tackle on forward Mitchell Sargent (Knights).
43 min: ON REPORT - Forward Adam Woolnough (Knights) for high tackle on Heighington.
54 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Vuna scores to put the cat amongst the pigeons. Follows a break down the left side. Battle Royale going on and the last-placed Knights are well in this match. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Wests Tigers 14-12
56 min: ON REPORT - Bryce Gibbs (Tigers) on report for a swinging arm on back rower Steve Simpson (Knights).