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A noisy crowd at Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle saw their home side claw back from a 12 point deficit at halftime to win at the death by 32 - 30.
The Dragons soaked up a mountain of attack from the Knights in the first half, bombing many scoring opportunities by the Newcastle side. When the Dragons had the ball they certainly took their chances and lead at halftime by 18-6.
Newcastle came out at halftime to with all guns blazing and scored three quick tries in 10 minutes to have them right back into the game and into the lead.
An intercept to the Dragons and the game changed. The Dragons came back with two tries of their own to look to seal the match.
But never underestimate a wounded Knight, and MacDougall back in his first NRL match for 2003, scored two more tries to get a hat trick, and tie up the game in the 80th minute.
The 18,233 crowd and the viewers waited while Andrew Johns set up his kick from the sideline that would either win the match for the Newcastle side, or go to extra time. The kick of the year, and the Knights win.
Johns playing in his 201st first grade match certainly was on fire and didn't look to be suffering from his mid week Origin match. Other outstanding players for the Knights were Buderus when he came off the bench, MacDougall and Abraham. For the Dragons, Firman was a stand out until he left the field in the second half, as well as Thompson and Ryles.
Scorers: KNIGHTS 32 Tries: Quinn, Johns, MacDougall 3, Hughes Goals: Johns (4/6) defeated DRAGONS 30 Tries: Blacklock 2, Cooper 2, Ryles Goals: Firman (2/2), Riddell (3/4)
Friday 13 June 2003 7:30 PM EnergyAustralia Stadium Crowd - 18,233 Referee: Sean Hampstead
Leagueunlimited players of the match:
3 - A Johns (Knights) 2 - A MacDougall (Knights) 1 - L Thompson (Dragons)
By the clock:
The return of MacDougall for the Knights, and Pongia first up game for the Dragons. The Origin players for both sides playing tonight.
3rd min: NEWS - Thompson(Dragons) involved in a head clash with Gidley. Perry (Knights) on report for pushing Thompson's head into the dirt later on in the tackle count
6th min: TRY - Blacklock for Dragons. Silly error by Kennedy to hand the ball to the Dragons on the first tackle close to the Dragons line. Firman on the 3rd tackle puts a high kick out to Blacklock's wing. He out jumps MacDougall to score. Firman from 10 metres in, gets the conversion. Dragons 6-0
10th min: TRY - Quinn for Knights. A disputable call by the touch judge hands the scrum feed to the Knights 30 metres out from their line. They spin it wide and Quinn scores. Johns from 20 metres out, hooks the ball and gets the kick. 6-6
15th min: NEWS - A lot of broken play, almost panic amongst both sides. There's a lot of feeling in the game tonight
19th min: NEWS - Blacklock (Dragons) proving to be a slippery specimen for the defence.
20th min: TRY - Cooper for Dragons. Firman makes the break through two big Newcastle forwards 60 metres from his line. Cooper is right up there to support and score. Firman converts the try from almost in front. Dragons 12-6
25th min: NEWS - Knights close to scoring on two occasions, but the Dragons defence is outstanding. Buderus is off the bench for the Knights after his Origin game on Wednesday night
30th min: NEWS - A bit of discipline started to lapse from the Knights and replaced by frustration.
32nd min: PENALTY GOAL - Riddell for Dragons. Knights back to back penalties against them to make the kick easier for Riddell. Dragons 14-6
38th min: NEWS - Jobson (Knights) off with an arm injury
40th min: TRY - Blacklock for Dragons. Another penalty against the Knights and the Dragons don't kick for goal, but kick to the corner. It pays off as Firman put a great kick through for Blacklock who made MacDougall look silly. Riddell misses the conversion. Dragons 18-6
HALFTIME: Great defence by Dragons to keep the Knights out of the game
Stats at halftime:
The Newcastle side have completed 16 of 22 sets while the Dragons side have completed 12 out of 19. Newcastle have made 123 tackles, 79 hitups and only 9 missed tackles. The Dragons have made 141 tackles, 71 hitups and 8 missed tackles. The Newcastle side have made 7 handling errors and so have the Dragons. For Newcastle the top tackler has been Perry with 17 and also the most hitups with Kennedy on 9. For the Dragons, the top tackler has been Thompson and Thompson has made the most hitups with 9. Penalties were 5 to the Knights and 4 to the Dragons.
42nd min: TRY - Johns for Knights. Following a knock on from the kick off, the Knights are hot on attack. Johns choses to run on the last and gets the try but misses the conversion. Dragons 18-10
45th min: TRY - MacDougall for Knights. Whatever was said at halftime is working for the Knights. A good break by Buderus, with Johns playing the dummy runner, and great support by the Newcastle players gets MacDougall across out wide. Johns from the touchline, gets the hard conversion. Dragons 18-16
48th min: TRY - Hughes for Knights. Very soft defence down the right side and MacDougall punishes them with a huge run down the touchline, passes in field to Hughes who scores. Johns gets the easy conversion. Knights 22-18
50th min: NEWS - Newtown (Knights) off the field on a stretcher after falling awkwardly in a tackle. Thompson first to help him. Reports say a dislocation of Newtown's ankle, not good news for the young player.
54th min: TRY - Cooper for Dragons. Totally against the run of play Cooper runs the length of the field to score after intercepting the ball thrown by Tahu. Looked like a certain try for the Knights after throwing the ball around on the fifth tackle, only to have Cooper spoil the party. Riddell from 12 metres out, gets the conversion. Dragons 24-22
60th min: NEWS - A bit of frustration setting in again amongst some Newcastle players. The crowd definitely letting ref Hampstead know their feelings
62nd min: NEWS - Buderus (Knights) has a try disallowed by the video ref. Both the crowd and the commentators are stunned. Score still 24-22 to the Dragons after the Knights were held up over the line on the last tackle
65th min: NEWS - Firman(Dragons) off the field and up the tunnel. A shame as he has played superbly tonight. No news as to the problem
66th min: TRY - Ryles for Dragons. A kick through for the Dragons attackers to chase. Rudder thought he had grounded the ball, Blacklock misses as he dives, and Ryles comes in late, touches the ball and is awarded the try. Riddell from out in front, gets the kick. Dragons 30-22
69th min: TRY - MacDougall for Knights. The Newcastle side hit straight back just when you thought it was over. 5th tackle and the ball in spread wide, batted on by Kennedy to MacDougall who scores. Johns misses the conversion. Dragons 30-26
72nd min: NEWS - Riddell (Dragons) off the field with a shoulder injury, all the interchanges used up for the Dragons
76th min: NEWS - A try disallowed to the Dragons when Johns is taken out of the play
77th min: NEWS - Another try disallowed to the Knights, the Dragons defence is holding. Dragons still lead 30-26
80th min: TRY - MacDougall for Knights. A mistake by Thompson, and the Knights attack again. Quick plays and the winger is over out wide. Johns from 22 metres out, gets the kick off the season to win the match for the Knights.
FULL TIME: What a thriller!!
Stats at fulltime:
The Newcastle side completed 32 of 43 sets while the Dragons completed 19 out of 35. Newcastle made 190 tackles, 175 hitups and only 11 missed tackles. The Dragons have made 307 tackles, 116 hitups and 21 missed tackles. The Newcastle side made 13 handling errors and the Dragons made 21. For Newcastle the top tackler was Perry with 26 and the most hitups with Kennedy on 16. For the Dragons, the top tackler was Thompson with 38 and he also made the most hitups with 15. Penalties were 8 to the Knights and 9 to the Dragons. Offloads were 9 to the Knights and 6 for the Dragons. Finally handling errors 13 for Newcastle and 21 for the Dragons.