The Newcastle Knights have tonight kept in touch with the top four after a hard-fought 25-20 victory over South Sydney at EnergyAustralia Stadium, perhaps ending the Rabbitohs semi-final hopes.
Aku Uate registered first points for the match when he latched onto a perfect cut-out pass from Zeb Taia, plunging over in the corner despite Jamie Simpson's best effort to bundle him over the touchline. South Sydney hit straight back several minutes later through Michael Crocker, who took advantage of some lazy defence, breaking through Junior Sau's attempted tackle to put the ball down 20 metres in from touch. Isaac Luke converted from the simple position to put the Rabbitohs in front. Heading into the final ten minutes of the first half, the Rabbitohs extended their lead when Jamie Simpson scored out wide from a perfectly placed kick early in the tackle count from five-eighth John Sutton. Again, Luke converted from adjacent to the posts and the Rabbitohs appeared to be in control at 12-4. Both sides continued the arm-wrestle until just before the half-time siren sounded when Ben Rogers earnt his side a penalty after a minor scuffle with Colin Best. Gidley adds the penalty goal to have the sides heading to the break at 12-6.
The Knights, still with their ears ringing from a halftime rev-up by coach Brian Smith explode out of the blocks in the second half, completing their sets and playing good field position. They finally convert the possession into points when Richie Fa'aoso plunges over from close-range after a neat inside pass from hooker Isaac De Gois. Again, Gidley adds the extras to lock the scores up at 12. The Knights extend their lead in the 60th minute with the try of the match. On tackle four, the Knights spread the ball from deep inside their own territory, halfback Jarrod Mullen's perfect 20-metre spiral cutout pass finding evergreen centre Adam MacDougall into space. MacDougall raced down the eastern sideline, drawing in Jamie Simpson and Colin Best, offloading to Keith Lulia, who drew fullback Nathan Merritt, before a superbly timed pass hit Steve Simpson on the chest. The 200-game veteran celebrated his milestone match finishing off a superb long-range movement. With just six minutes on the clock, Knights halfback Jarrod Mullen put the match beyond the Rabbitohs reach with a sand-wedge like field goal attempt from 20 metres, putting the Knights up by 13. The Rabbitohs finished the scoring with two tries in two minutes, including backing up the ball carrier, firstly with David Fa'alogo scoring out wide, before Jamie Simpson scored his second try of the game.
The match was a highly entertaining affair, although there were some basic errors made by both sides. Four tries apiece was probably a good indication of the game, with the Knights just shading the Rabbitohs over the course of the 80-minutes.
Adam MacDougall was among the Knights best, along with Isaac De Gois who was a constant menace out of dummy half, while Steve Simpson celebrated his 200th game with a try, and some stinging defence.
Next week, the Knights travel south to tackle the Storm, while the Rabbitohs tackle the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on Saturday at 5.30pm.
Match Details Newcastle Knights 25 def South Sydney Rabbitohs 20 Round 16 - Monday :: June 29th, 2009 7:00pm Venue: Energy Australia Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne & Gerard Sutton Sideline Officials: Steve Chiddy & Peter Kirby Video Referee: Steve Clark Crowd: 14,204 Half time: Rabbitohs 12-6
Newcastle Knights 25 Tries: Aku Uate, Richard Fa'aoso, Keith Lulia, Steve Simpson Field Goals: Jarrod Mullen (1/1) Goals: Kurt Gidley (4/5) South Sydney Rabbitohs 20 Tries: Michael Crocker, Jamie Simpson (2), David Fa'alogo Goals: Issac Luke (2/4)
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KNIGHTS: 1. Kurt Gidley (c) 2. Keith Lulia 3. Junior Sau 4. Adam MacDougall 5. Akulia Uate 6. Ben Rogers 7. Jarrod Mullen 8. Mark Taufua 9. Isaac DeGois 10. Chris Houston 11. Steve Simpson 12. Zeb Taia 13. Matt Hilder Interchange: 14. Wes Naiqama 15. Marvin Karawana 16. Richie Fa Like