The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Despite a howling gale, the Newcastle Knights and Brisbane Broncos battled it out in an entertaining duel with the Broncos coming out 16-12 victors in front of a small but vocal crowd at EnergyAustralia Stadium this afternoon.
The conditions reeked havoc all game giving a clear advantage to whoever had the wind at their backs, making tactical kicking often difficult and unpredictable.
It was expected to be a game of two halves, but nobody told the Broncos, holding out the Knights out several times with a superb defending effort only letting through one try in the first half.
The Knights made several errors in good territory and possession while the Broncos looked strong in attack, scoring right on half-time to trail at the break by 6 to 4.
The Broncos started the second half with the wind in their sails, scoring two excellent tries through Karmichael Hunt and Brent Tate to lead by ten points, and seemingly galloping away with victory.
The Knights however had other plans after George Carmont nabbed an intercept to put the Knights within four points.
The last 20 minutes was a brutal encounter with the Knights lifting in defence and attack and coming close to scoring several times.
With several minutes left, Kurt Gidley put a kick into the in-goal, setting up Michael Ennis for a near try. But he was ruled to have knocked-on with the elbow before grounding the ball with his torso.
The Knights never gave up putting in a spirited second half effort but the Broncos held them out.
The Knights have all but ended their final hopes but the Broncos still continue their premiership march playing cellar-dwellers Manly next week.
KNIGHTS 12 Tries: Newton, Carmont Goals: K Gidley 2/2 defeated by BRONCOS 16 Tries: Stagg, Hunt, Tate Goals: Lockyer 2/4
EnergyAustralia Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Video Referee: Paul Simpkins Touch Judges: Pat Reynolds, Paul Kalina
By the clock: Cold and windy conditions welcome Necastle & Brisbane onto EnergyAustralia Stadium for this round 19 clash. Scott Minto replaces Michael Devere in the Broncos side.
0 min: Broncos kickoff
7 min: News - The Knights finally get their chance to run with the ball inside the Broncos 20 metres. A bad pass cant reach Anthony Quinn waiting for it on the wing.
15 min: News - The Broncos havent reaped any rewards as of yet with the strong breeze weakening their kicking game whilst the Knights have looked alot stronger inside their oppositions 20 metres.
20 min: News - Great deffence by the Knights holding Karmichael Hunt over the line.
22 min: News - Craig Frawley breaks free on his flank, George Carmont throws him out over the sideline.
26 min: News - Darren Lockyer breaks away, he attempts to pass it out to his unmarked wingers but he knocks it on doing so.
28 min: News - Shaun Berrigan puts Casey McGuire into space, he kicks it into the in-goal but it's cleaned up by Robbie O'Davis.
35 min: News - With such an advantage the Knights have only been able to score six points due to the outstanding Broncos defence going into a survivial mode of sorts.
37 min: News - The Broncos are pulled up for obstruction which wouldve led to an outstanding try after Karmichael Hunt ran behind another player
40 min: Try - Broncos. David Stagg slides his way through two defenders before scoring right on half time. Darren Lockyer cant convert.
HALF TIME: Excellent first half by the Broncos after defending their hearts out to concede only six points with such a strong strong wind blowing in favour to the Knigts. The Knights have been often guilty of making fundamental errors in good territory leaving them with egg on their faces. 6 - 4 The Newcastle Knights are leading
Half Time Statistics:
Possession: Knights 49%; Broncos 51% Penalties: 3-3 Completions: Knights 17/22; Broncos 17/22 Line Breaks: Broncos 3-1 Mistackles: Knights 15-14 Offloads: Knights 8-5 Errors: Broncos 6-5
40 min: Knights kickoff
45 min: News - Good work by the Knights forcing the Broncos in-goal.
48 min: Try - Broncos. Excellent try by the Broncos starting with a Craig Frawley break, they off load and pass it all around the ball park finishing off with Karmichael Hunt scoring. Lockyer converts. 10-6 Broncos
51 min: Try - Broncos. Darren Lockyer puts Brent Tate through a gap, he runs 45 metres before placing the ball down. Lockyer converts. 16-6 Broncos
60 min: News - Darren Lockyer nails a 40/20 kick.
61 min: News - Good attacking play by the Broncos but the Knights hold them out forcing the turn over.
65 min: News - An exciting and intresting game is going to go down to the wire. The Knights must be getting tired from defending so much down their own end but are hanging on only just through some excellent defending. Newcastle always look dangerous when they pass it wide through their centres, the Broncos are starting to make more and more errors but still hold the advantage.
70 min: News - Terrible mistake by the Knights with Michael Ennis knocking it on in a good position to score more points.
73 min: News - The Knights have lifted in defence and attack and they tackle Scott Minto over the sideline to get another set of six. Shane Webcke will not be back suffering from injury.
74 min: News - Andrew Price comes inches from scoring but is held up by Casey McGuire.
74 min: News - Kurt Gidley puts in a kick into the in-goal, Shaun Berrigan misjudges the bounce and Michael Ennis pounces on the ball but is ruled by the video Referee to have knocked it on with his elbow.
77 min: News - Attempted penalty goal missed by Darren Lockyer. The Knights get the ball from the next play however kicking it into touch from the drop-kick restart.
79 min: News - A heart sinker for the Knights after Anthony Quinn kicked it dead ending the game and their hopes of victory.
FULL TIME: Excellent match despite the terrible weather conditions. The Knights can lift their heads high after almost stopping the Broncos with a howling gale behind their backs. Brisbane Broncos win the match by 16 to 12
Full Time Statistics:
Possession: Knights 51%; Broncos 49% Penalties: 5-5 Completions: Knights 29/42; Broncos 30/45 Line Breaks: Broncos 5-2 Mistackles: Broncos 35-24 Offloads: Knights 17-8 Errors: Broncos 16-14 ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Parsons (Knights) 2 - D Lockyer (Broncos) 1 - B Kennedy (Knights) -----------------------------------------