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Canberra have recorded their first win of 2014 in a see-saw 26-20 victory over Newcastle in front of 14,674 at Hunter Stadium tonight.
After both sides were first start losers in round 1, Newcastle and Canberra were looking to rectify this and get their name on to the winners sheet for the first time in 2014. It showed in the play, as both teams were more eager to attack rather than defend throughout the contest.
Raiders were fast starters up in North Queensland last week and continued that trend this week in the 7th minute forcing a line drop out then Jack Wighton and Jarrod Croker combined for the centre to scorch past three defenders on his way to the try-line from the five eighth's grubber. Anthony Milford converted to put them six ahead.
Conceding a try didn't push Newcastle back into their shell they went the other way spreading the ball wide to give their wide men time to crack the line. Uate relished in this space provided after the defense was stretched - he eyed off the try-line challenging Edrick Lee to a foot race but there was only one winner Uate.
Newcastle continued their positive intent despite the repeated lapses of being offside. A nice short ball found Beau Scott who powered through the defensive line, weaved inside and out before stumbling to the try-line. His effort giving Newcastle a 10-6 lead following a Kurt Gidley conversion.
Canberra underined the narrative for the final hour of the contest as they exploited the previously mentioned lax defense of the Knights with Josh McCrone turning a simple dart from the play-the-ball into a try after the markers weren't able to catch him. The rest of the half descended into an error fest leaving us locked at 10 a piece at the interval thanks to McCrone's try.
The second half resembled a playground see-saw with how often the momentum changed between the two sides. Canberra with the first salvo in the 53rd minute with Jarrod Croker bagging his second. The credit should go to fullback Anthony Milford who was central to the Raiders victory as he prised open the Knights defense time and again.
The response was swift and slightly fortitutious for the home side as the Raiders back three combined to produce a comedy moment straight from the three stooges including a rebound that fell right into the hands of James McManus to fall over for the try and lock the game up again at 16 points all.
Good things come in twos, so did the Newcastle tries tonight as right after McManus touched down the Hunter faithful were celebrating again when Tyrone Roberts crossed. It came from a Joseph Leilua offload that Roberts powered through the gap and wouldn;t be stopped until he made it to the try-line. Gidley hooked the conversion and it was 20-16 Newcastle with 13 left to play.
Milford proved why Brisbane were so keen on bringing him into the fold with his pace and stepping ability which troubled Newcastle all through the night. He stepped left then right before getting into open space trying to position Croker who offloaded to the unlikely support man Paul Vaughan to sneak the Raiders ahead 22-20.
They put the game beyond doubt just before the final siren as Edrick Lee was the receipent of a gift when debutant Matt Minto spilled a ball right on his line so it was a simple catch and pass for the winger to stroll in. Raiders were off the mark for 2014 while Newcastle slump to zero for two with a visit to Melbourne looming.
TEAM NEWS for tonight's clash in Newcastle has the Knights bringing in debutant Matt Minto at fullback in place of Kurt Gidley. Gids shifts to hooker with Travis Waddell dropping back to the bench. Jake Mamo and David Fa'alogo are surplus to requirements and played earlier today in NYC and NSW Cup respectively.
Canberra, meanwhile, are unchanged.
Welcome to Hunter Stadium for the first time in 2014 - We have a clash between two first round losers in Newcastle and Canberra thus both will be looking to get off the mark tonight. The Knights were disappointing in losing to Penrith while Canberra were pegged back in the second half against the North Queensland side.
Here come the Raiders on to Hunter Stadium in their traditional white away jersey lining up on halfway. Newcastle follow to the roar of the crowd and take their position waiting for the kick-off.
Here we go! Knights with first use.
2: Whoops it's gone through the hands there of Milford.. knock on? No play on it is.
5: Matt Minto is into the action early - He recovers a grubber but is trapped in goal. Another set of six in defense for Newcastle.
6: VIDEO REFEREE: Jarrod Croker latched onto a grubber through the line, checking grounding..
12: PENALTY Canberra - holding down too long. Raiders right back into the Knights half.
15: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Akuila Uate. Kick to come.
Some lovely work from Newcastle there - they were stringing passes together to stretch the Raiders. Uate got space and it was a foot race between himself and Edrick Lee. The former won absorbing a shot from Milford in the process.
17: PENALTY Raiders - Newcastle inside the ten possibly dazzled by the footwork from Reece Robinson.
19: VIDEO REFEREE: Jarrod Croker claiming his second - checking onside and grounding. On-field call was TRY.
19: RED LIGHTS.. NO TRY! Valiant effort from Jarrod Croker but he spilled it at the vital moment.
21: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Beau Scott. Kick to come.
That was just too simple - An easy face ball to Beau Scott found the backrower in space, he weaved away from the defense on his way to the try-line.
22: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
From besides the sticks, Gidley puts it through.
24: PENALTY Raiders - 3-0 count now.. offside once again. Knights have been lax in their defensive duties thus far.
26: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANBERRA RAIDERS
Conversion attempt by Anthony Milford unsuccessful.
Milford with a conversion to put the Raiders back in front.. he strides in and hooks it.
30: PENALTY - Raiders once again.. Cuthbertson the man pinged.
31: Newcastle have saved their blushes though - forcing an error from the Raiders.
32: Followed by a PENALTY! Their first of the night.
33: Good vision from Dobson there, spying McManus had some space.. he chipped one out to the winger but he couldn't get the right bounce.
33: Just for something different.. PENALTY Raiders coming out of their own half. Once again offside.
37: Joel Edwards asking about some restaurant recommendations from his former Knights team-mates after a late tackle. Edwards' tackle is ON REPORT and PENALTY Newcastle.
39: A lovely inside ball sent Anthony Milford away but he was roped in. Raiders stretch it and go close through Allwood but Campese can't find the proper fifth tackle option so it's a handover.
39: UNFORCED ERROR NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Tyrone Roberts makes an unforced error.
McKinnon tries an inside ball himself to Roberts but it's spilled.
40: HALFTIME in an entertaining contest - it's locked at 10 a piece.
41: We're back for the second half here in the Hunter. Both teams back onto the field ready for forty more minutes of action. Now we're back underway!
41: Second verse much like the first. Raiders earn a PENALTY for offside.
43: Early kick from the man on debut Minto caught the Raiders by surprise allowing Akuila Uate to almost sneak underneath for the TRY. Milford got there just in time though so it'll be a dropout.
44: Knights just slowly building the pressure here forcing another line drop out.
46: Sloppy work by the Knights there - well on the attack and Tyrone Roberts drifts his pass forward. Let off for the Raiders.
49: Josh Papalii poked his nose through looking for a team mate but is wrapped up with his ankle caught underneath. Hopefully he isn't hurt too bad.
49: The roles are reversed now.. Knights forced to concede a line drop-out.
53: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by Jarrod Croker. Kick to come.
That was magnificent from Anthony Milford - he jinked and jived his way through the defensive line before setting it up for Croker to stroll in for the TRY.
54: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANBERRA RAIDERS
Conversion attempt by Anthony Milford successful.
55: PENALTY Canberra as one referee says go the other says no for the quick tap.. that would have been a run-out in test cricket. Raiders start the set on their own forty.
58: PENALTY Newcastle - the crowd roars as the referee blows the whistle.
59: Followed by another one.. not square bellows the referee.
59: VIDEO REFEREE: Matt Minto might have claimed a maiden meat pie in the NRL.. checking grounding.
60: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by James McManus. Kick to come.
GREEN LIGHTS..TRY! Sorry it was McManus! Danny Bhoy can you hear the pipes? The Hunter can after the winger touched down in odd fashion from a Raiders ricochet.
62: PENALTY Canberra - for knocking it out as Milford wanted to take the quick tap.
66: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Tyrone Roberts. Kick to come.
Rocketing Roberts! A nice offload popped by Leilua found Roberts who eyed the corner taking on Milford, the halfback won diving in before the line.
67: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley unsuccessful.
Gidley with his hardest assignment of the night from the sideline.. misses.
70: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by Paul Vaughan. Kick to come.
What a quick comeback from the Raiders. Milford once again found himself some space sending Jarrod Croker away but he got a final pass away for Paul Vaughan. On replay there is suspicions of it being forward.
77: UNFORCED ERROR CANBERRA RAIDERS
Edrick Lee makes an unforced error.
That was a hospital ball for Lee and was duly knocked on.
78: Canberra set right on halfway after Uate knocks on stopping a raid.
79: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by Edrick Lee. Kick to come.
Edrick Lee seals the deal for the Raiders! Milford put a kick through that was recovered by Minto who was smashed, losing the ball then it was simple catch and pass for the try.