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Super Saturday's night of upsets continued at EnergyAustralia Stadium in Round 21, the Sydney Roosters happily taking the two points back down the F3 after a 30-18 victory over Newcastle in front of 15,112 fans.
The Knights started rusty with errors all over the shop, and it set the tone for the night as they conceded a penalty which ultimately led to a try for the Roosters off the back of some good field position. Fitzgibbon was the tryscorer and after converting his try, his team led 6-0 early.
Not wanting to be outdone, the Knights hit straight back, a brilliant ball from Zeb Taia sending MacDougall flying through before the "Mad Dog" linked up with Kurt Gidley. Gidley converted his own try from beside the posts and scores were level for the final time of the night.
The Roosters went on to dominate proceedings, Willie Mason leading the visiting forward pack around with some strong running and classy offloads. The Knights defence stopped the initial Roosters onslaught, but the Roosters finally managed to crack their line - not twice but thrice - and put the Knights on the back foot. The men from Bondi took an 24-6 lead to the halftime break.
It was the Roosters who dominated the early stages of the second half, Setaimata Sa extending the visiting side's lead with a try after six minutes. It would be the Roosters last points of the night - but they continued to play some enterprising footy, much to the chagrin of the home fans of the Knights. It wasn't until the 63rd minute that the scorers were troubled again, Jarrod Mullen with a sneaky chip kick finding his captain Kurt Gidley near the posts.
Adam MacDougall also forced his way over in the final minute to close the gap but ultimately it was a flattering scoreline for the Knights, who were dominated by the Sydney Roosters from the opening whistle.
Next week the Knights face a worrying trip to Parramatta Stadium on Sunday afternoon, a match which could potentially lead to top-eight obilivion if they lose again. The Roosters' battle to lift from the base of the ladder is gathering steam and they will head home to the SFS to face the Wests Tigers.
Match Details Sydney Roosters 30 def Newcastle Knights 18 Round 21 - Saturday August 1st, 2009 07:30pm Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle Referee: Ben Cummins & Brett Suttor Sideline Officials: David Abood & Luke Potter Video Referee: Phil Cooley Crowd: 15,112 Halftime: Newcastle Knights 6 Sydney Roosters 24
Sydney Roosters 30 Tries: Craig Fitzgibbon, Willie Mason, Mitchell Pearce, Iosia Soliola, Setaimata Sa Goals: Craig Fitzgibbon (5/5) LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Roosters) 2 Points: Craig Fitzgibbon (Roosters) 1 Point: Lopini Paea (Roosters)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Knights v Roosters forum discussion - click here!
The city is Newcastle, the ground is EnergyAustralia Stadium as we welcome you to the second of three Super Saturday clashes. The Newcastle Knights are taking on the Sydney Roosters, pitting the Roosters incoming coach Brian Smith against his club-to-be the Sydney Roosters, where outgoing mentor Brad Fittler will be looking to rally his troops.
This looms as a big danger game for the home side who will want to win to put themselves within striking distance of the top four following losses by Melbourne and the Gold Coast on Friday night.
Team changes - well, Minichiello hasn't even made it a week. He's out for the Roosters, Shaun Kenny-Dowall replaces him in jersey 18. The Knights' reserve half Scott Dureau is out, sending McDonnell to fullback, Gidley to halfback and Mullen to five-eighth. Naiqama drops off the bench and Paterson will start in place of Fa'aoso who is back to the bench.
KNIGHTS: 16. Shannon McDonnell 2. Keith Lulia 3. Junior Sau 4. Adam MacDougall 5. Akuila Uate 7. Jarrod Mullen 1. Kurt Gidley 8. Mark Taufua 9. Isaac De Gois 18. Cory Paterson 11. Steve Simpson 12. Zeb Taia 13. Matt Hilder Interchange: 6. Ben Rogers 10. Richard Fa'aoso 15. Marvin Karawana 17. Danny Wicks ROOSTERS: 1. Sam Perrett 18. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 3. Mitchell Aubusson 4. Setaimata Sa 5. Iwi Hauraki 6. Ben Jones 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Frank-Paul Nuuausala 9. Jake Friend 10. Lopini Paea 11. Iosia Soliola 12. Willie Mason 13. Craig Fitzgibbon (c) Interchange: 14. Stanley Waqa 15. Shane Shackleton 16. Riley Brown 17. Nick Kouparitsas; Reserves: 18. Ryan Williamson
Teams are on, we're ready for action.
We have kickoff from the boot of Newcastle's Cory Paterson. Roosters will play the first set of the game.
1 min: Dodgy play-the-ball by Craig Fitzgibbon ruled to be an error, Knights scrum in attacking position early.
2 min: Terrible last tackle kick from Gidley goes across the goalmouth and straight over the dead ball line.
6 min: The Knights looking a little off the pace so far tonight, they don't look to have lifted, thinking they're playing an also-ran. The Roosters on the other hand are looking strong. The visitors force a line drop-out, they'll have a shot at posting first points.
8 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Roosters try Fitzgibbon is back tonight and he's gone over, but they're checking for obstruction. No hint of it, grounding's fine. No doubt here.
9 min: TRY Sydney Roosters A couple of repeat sets on the Knights line yields a result for the Roosters, and after a Knights line-drop out goes out on the full, the Roosters have a penalty ten out right in front. They take the tap and two tackles in Craig Fitzgibbon runs onto a Jake Friend offload and crashes over. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 6-0
12 min: TRY Newcastle Knights A fantastic ball from Zeb Taia to MacDougall on halfway and Mad Dog is away in open field! He finds Gidley on the inside, Gidley bumps off some last-ditch defence and it's a beautiful try to the Knights right beside the posts. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. 6 all
15 min: PENALTY Roosters - a little piggy-back upfield. Interesting to note both tries today came off the back of penalties, can the Roosters hit back now?
16 min: Good pressure from the Roosters results in repeat sets.
17 min: Another good set from the tricolours and it's another drop-out, they're looking sharp tonight.
19 min: The Knights defend well and Soliola spills it.
20 min: Newcastle venture into the Roosters half but MacDougall and Gidley can't link up and the ball is with the Roosters. The error is compounded two rucks later with a PENALTY. Roosters on the attack now.
22 min: More brilliant defence from Newcastle and they defuse the last tackle option from the Roosters. And now a PENALTY.
23 min: Some good play from the Roosters, Willie Mason having a blinder so far. They can't crack the Knights line though.
25 min: PENALTY Roosters - Cummins and Suttor quite whistle-happy tonight, the Roosters given another attacking opportunity.
26 min: TRY Sydney Roosters A short ball to a rampaging Willie Mason before the line and he's striking some good form as he barges over and places the ball down. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 12-6
31 min: TRY Sydney Roosters A break from Shaun Kenny-Dowall puts Mitchell Pearce into plenty of space and the Knights chasers don't have the pace to catch. Pearce dives over, the Roosters are on fire. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 18-6
33 min: Dominating possession so far the Sydney Roosters, and their defence has been there in numbers. Hold up... VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Roosters try. A ball out the back from the Knights has gone to ground, Jake Friend toes it along the ground, Friend and Soliola both claim a try. Decision pending... NO TRY. Newcastle grounded it, it's a line drop-out.
35 min: TRY Sydney Roosters Dominating possession and field position, this Roosters side cross again. An offload sees Setaimata Sa change direction and send the ball for Iosia Soliola, who scrambles over some Knights defence to score. Fitzgibbon converts. Sydney Roosters 24-6
38 min: The Roosters are chancing their hand and almost come up with the goods again, but this time the ball just rolls dead.
HALFTIME: Sydney Roosters 24 Newcastle Knights 6 A comprehensive performance from the Roosters who've so far dominated possession and field position. The Knights could easily get back into the contest but they're continually pushing passes and making unforced errors, not to mention giving away stupid penalties. It's the Roosters' game to lose... stay tuned for the second half coming up soon.
Play resumes for the second half, Newcastle with some ball from the kickoff.
42 min: End-to-end sets from both sides to start the half, Newcastle's next set sees them with a PENALTY and... finally, some field postion.
43 min: Newcastle's attack is blunted by some good sliding Roosters defence, the Knights' set ends with Junior Sau put into touch.
46 min: TRY Sydney Roosters The Roosters get on the board first and lengthen the odds of a Knights victory, Sa is the tryscorer. Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 30-6
51 min: Danny Wicks makes a break for the Knights down the right but a massive hit sees him lose the ball. Wicks is in la-la land after that shot.
55 min: Finally some field position and a PENALTY will give them a full set inside the Roosters ten. Another PENALTY now and Suttor is threatening to send Roosters players to the bin. Empty threats though.
57 min: Newcastle simply can't get over the line tonight, the Roosters defence has appeared tonight in force.
58 min: Some razzle-dazzle from the Roosters almost comes off, but the last ditch chip-kick ends up in the arms of the Knights.
61 min: Time running out for the Knights and to be truthful they don't really look like scoring.
66 min: A big hoisted kick from Mullen goes up and it's bounced off Gidley, although the crowd disagreed, and the Roosters have it.
67 min: Uate drops the ball backwards retrieving a kick, then puts on a fantastic step on to get the ball back a few metres up field.
68 min: A break from Steve Simpson up the flank but the passes don't stick for the Knights and the clock looks like it'll beat them...
69 min: PENALTY Roosters - laying around in the tackle costing the Knights, poor discipline. A knock-on first tackle hands possession back to the Knights though.
70 min: The Knights manage to defend a set on their own line, holding up the Roosters and forcing a turnover.
76 min: Both sides making some valiant attempts to score as the game winds down but neither side can finish off.
78 min: Lulia gets a fantastic wide ball and looks certain to score, but he's put his foot in touch, the sideline official makes the call and it's crushing for the Knights.
79 min: The Roosters drop the ball from the first pass off the scrumbase. Knights with another set to close the game.
80 min: TRY Newcastle Knights MacDougall can't be stopped late in the piece and Newcastle manage to minimise the damage to their points differential. Gidley converts but the Roosters walk away with the competition points. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Sydney Roosters 30-18