Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
The Newcastle Knights continued their push for a top four birth on the weekend after a comprehensive 57-28 victory over the North Sydney Bears. The win puts the Knights in 5th position on the Jersey Flegg ladder.
After just three minutes of play, the Bears opened the scoring through five-eight Reece Watson, who missed the conversion attempt. Just two minutes later, Knights lock forward Mitchell Steel crossed for the first of his four tries for the afternoon, after a bullet-like Luke Walsh pass put him over. Walsh added the extras to put the Knights in front 6-4. Knights prop Tim Natusch extended the home side's lead five minutes later when he crashed over under the posts, halfback Luke Walsh converted to put the Knights in front 12-4. They never looked back from that point. Knights winger Aaron Hartmann then crossed out wide in the eleventh minute, as the Knights continued to throw the ball around. Walsh added a spectacular sideline conversion from the western touchline, the non-preferred side for a right footed kicker, to extend the Knights lead to 14. The Bears hit back in the 16th minute, once again through five-eight Watson, who converted his own try to close the gap to 18-10. Mitchell Steel then added another two tries in four minutes to his personal account. Walsh missed his first conversion of the afternoon to take the score out to 28-10. Moments before halftime Watson scored his hat-trick of tries, before adding the extras, to send the sides to the break at 28-16. Obviously, defence seemed to not be the order of the day, as 44 points were scored in just 35 minutes.
The Knights continued on where they left off in the second half through full-back Sam Wooden, who's try was once again converted by Walsh, to have the Knights in full control of this match. The Bears continued to throw the ball around, and would not let the game slip too far out of their reach and Luke Hemsworth scored another try for the visitors, which kept them in the game 34-22 after the conversion. However, the Knights continued to pile on the points and Steel scored his fourth try of the afternoon, equalling the club-record for most tries in a game. Again, Walsh, who brought his kicking boots with him, added the conversion and the Knights were home 40-22 with 15 minutes remaining. They continued to put on a show for the small amount of fans who got there to watch their younger brigade run around, as centre Leigh Abel crossed for his first try of the afternoon. It goes without saying that Walsh again added the extras and the Knights had their eye on 50 as they led by 46-22. Bears winger Joel Bennet crossed for a consolation try seven minutes from time. Again Watson added the extras as the Bears looked forward to next week as they trailed 46-28. Walsh capped off an outstanding performance when he added a try to his 7 goals he had already kicked, before making it 8 goals, when he successfully converted his own try, once again from the sideline. That put the Knights past 50. With about 2 and a half minutes remaining, Walsh added a field goal to his tally for good measure, which extended the lead out to 53-28, before Abel scored his second try of the afternoon on the stroke of full-time, which left the final score of Newcastle 57 defeated North Sydney 28.
Although the Knights will take the win, and a comprehensive one at that, they will need to work on their defence, which was very soft around the middle of the ruck, before they take on the 6th placed Bulldogs at Telstra Stadium next Saturday afternoon. For the Knights, once again, halfback Walsh was outstanding, but he was allowed that sort of freedom as the forwards were doing their job in going forward. Walsh finished with a personal tally of 21 points. This was through a try, 8 goals from 10 attempts and a field goal.