Knights hang on to defeat gutsy Rabbitohs

Round 20
Newcastle Knights 24 vs South Sydney Rabbitohs 18
at EnergyAustralia Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger

Match summary:
The Newcastle Knights have withstood a second half come back from the South Sydney Rabbitohs to post a 24-18 victory in Newcastle tonight.

The Knights look set to take out the match convincingly after leading 24-0 at half time. But a resurgent South Sydney side came back to keep the home side scoreless in the second half.

With tries to winger Brian Carney and forward Steve Simpson, the Knights raced away to 12-0 lead after 18 minutes. Half back Andrew Johns and forward Kirk Reynoldson added two more tries late in the half and at the break the Knights looked set for a big win.

Souths emerged from the sheds and reversed their fortunes soon after with a try to winger Paul Mellor. Hooker Stuart Webb scored in the 53rd minute to put the Rabbitohs behind by 12. A try to winger Nathan Merritt set up a 12-18 score line with the Knights hanging on to win.

The result sees Souths crash to their 18th loss of the season while the Knights maintain their tenuous hold on a top eight position.

South Sydney five-eighth Beau Champion and centre Germaine Paulson were placed on report for a lifting tackle on Matt Gidley in the 38th minute.

Newcastle Knights: 24
Tries: Andrew Johns, Kirk Reynoldson, Steve Simpson, Brian Carney
Goals: Andrew Johns 4/4
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 18
Tries: Nathan Merritt, Paul Mellor, Stuart Webb
Goals: Ben Walker 3/3

Half time: Knights 24-0
Crowd: 14,599

By the clock
A healthy crowd on hand in Newcastle.
Kick off!

3 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
Brian Carney scores for the home side. Andrew Johns converts.
Knights 6-0

18 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
Steve Simpson scores after being set up by Johns, and Johns converts to put the home side further ahead.
Knights 12-0

30 min: Still 12-0 to the Knights. Possession evening up now after Newcastle had the early bulk. Knights have made plenty of yards both sides of the ruck.

31 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
Andrew Johns scores from a high kick. Video ref has a look and gives him the benefit of the doubt. Johns converts.
Knights 18-0

36 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
Kirk Reynoldson is over for the Knights. Johns converts. This score line could blow out to anything.
Knights 24-0

Half time: Knights 24-0
Two tries in five minutes have put Newcastle well in charge. All stats favouring Knights and they are looking like specials to post a a convincing victory. Souths being carved up in the metres department and have all the work to do if they are to stem the flow.

Second half underway...

45 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Souths are on the board with Paul Mellor crossing. Ben Walker converts.
Knights 24-6

53 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Look out! Souths are mounting a come back. Stuart Webb scores and Ben Walker converts.
Knights 24-12

65 min: Its still Newcastle leading Souths 24-12. As in the first half, possession is beginning to even up and the Rabbitohs are still in it.

72 min: Knights maintaining their 12 points lead with eight minutes to go.

77 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Nathan Merritt has scored for the Rabbitohs. Walker's conversion puts Souths six points behind with a just few minutes remaining.
Knights 24-18

Full time: Knights 24 defeat Rabbitohs 18
Close finish as the Knights hang on to win, Souths outscoring the locals by 18-0 in the second half.
The Knights won the encounter in the first half with forward Steve Simpson having a top match in defence while making plenty of yards up front. Johns was also in top form in the first 40. But they were too inconsistent in the second half as the Rabbitohs came back. Ben Walker and John Sutton worked hard in defence and tried to motivate their troops. Souths certainly made a game of it but they were unable to nail it in the end.

----------------------------------------- players of the match:
3 - Steve Simpson (Knights)
2 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)
1 - Andrew Johns (Knights)