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Some great defence and a couple of timely interceptions have seen the New Zealand Warriors secure their first away victory in 2008 by defeating a gallant Newcastle Knights outfit 18-16 in front of 15,489 fans.
Although all reports indicated perfect footballing conditions, players from both teams had early problems keeping their feet and maintaining hold of the ball in a very lackluster opening 20 minutes, until Michael Crockett snuck down the sideline to put the Warriors in front. Patrick Ah Van's conversion attempt bounced away from the posts and the score stayed at 4-0 until the last minute of the first half when the home team grabbed the lead through a typical Adam MacDougall try, always hard to stop close to the line in open play. Wes Naiqama steered the ball over from out wide and a close contest looked on the cards with a halftime score of 6-4 in favour of the Novocastrians.
The Warriors hit back to take the lead straight after the restart when Grant Rovelli chip-kicked for a flying Ah Van who took the ball and almost spilled it in scoring the try. Video referee Russell Smith ruled that Ah Van maintained control of the ball and the Warriors raced back into the lead after Ah Van converted from close range. They then went further in front in the 62nd minute after being under siege on their own line for numerous repeat sets of six. Rovelli intercepted a Knights pass to sprint away and looked likely to score, only to be tackled 10 metres short of the tryline by Jarrod Mullen. Hooker Ian Henderson barged over a couple of plays later to take the Warriors lead to 10 with less than 20 minutes to go.
This only seemed to wake the Knights up from their slumber, and they scored 2 quick tries through interchange player Chris Bailey and winger James McManus to come storming back into the match. Wes Naiqama could only convert one of the tries and the score was locked at 16 all until the Warriors received a penalty 20 metres out, 15 metres in from the touchline. Patrick Ah Van calmly stepped up and chipped the ball over the bar for an 18-16 lead with only 90 seconds left on the clock for a possible Knights escape act. And it looked on the cards too until Rovelli took an almost identical intercept on his own line to run up field, allowing the clock to count down to zero and hand the New Zealand Warriors their first win in Australia for season 2008.
Best players for the winning team were lock Michael Luck who was a rock in defence making over 40 tackles, well supported in attack by halfback Grant Rovelli and fullback Patrick Ah Van who filled in for Lance Hohaia. Jarrod Mullen, Adam MacDougall and Danny Buderus never stopped trying for the Knights, but in the end a lone penalty goal proved the difference and the Warriors should enjoy a happy flight back home across the Tasman.
In Round 13 action next week Newcastle travel away to play an injury ravaged Bulldogs outfit, fresh off a thrashing at the hands of the Storm, while the Warriors have the perfect chance to get 2 straight victories as they host cellar dwellers South Sydney in Auckland.
Newcastle Knights (16)
Tries: Adam MacDougall, Chris Bailey, James McManus
Goals: Wes Naiqama (2/3)
New Zealand Warriors (18)
Tries: Michael Crockett, Patrick Ah Van, Ian Henderson
Goals: Patrick Ah Van (3/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match
3 Points: Michael Luck (Warriors) 2 Points: Grant Rovelli (Warriors) 1 Point: Jarrod Mullen (Knights)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Welcome to perfect footballing conditions at Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle for the Round 12 clash between the Newcastle Knights and the New Zealand Warriors. The Knights start this round just out of the top 8 while the Warriors are struggling in 14th position.
For the Warriors Lance Hohaia and Logan Swann will not play. Patrick Ah Van will play at fullback and Ryan Shortland will start from the bench.
The home team will start as per program.
1 min: The Knights kick off towards the southern end and we are underway.
6 min: Some sloppy handling by both teams early on.
12 min: The Knights will get a repeat set of 6 after a pin-point grubber from Dureau.
18 min: The Warriors receive a penalty and will go on the attack after a kick for touch.
19 min: What started out as perfect conditions for football is quickly turning into a mistake-fest as both teams are struggling to keep their footing or hang on to the pill.
20 min: VIDEO REF: Possible try to Michael Crockett for the Warriors.
20 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors A slick backline movement from the Warriors sees Michael Crockett slip down the sidleine past Cooper Vuna to score in the corner. Conversion attempt by Patrick Ah Van hits the right-hand upright and deflects away. New Zealand Warriors 4-0
30 min: Both teams are starting to use their interchange bench as the big blokes start to tire. A kick out on the full from Dureau puts New Zealand back on the attack.
33 min: A dummy half dart from Henderson sees him lose the ball and the Knights are let off the hook.
38 min: The Knights go on the attack with time running out in the first half.
39 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Adam "Mad Dog" MacDougall scores in the corner from a great cutout pass from Jarrod Mullen. Wes Naiqama bends a beautiful kick from right to left to pass right over the black dot and the Knights will lead at the break. Newcastle Knights 6-4
In a fairly even match we go into halftime with the Knights leading 6-4.
40 min: Both sets of troops are back out on the park and the Warriors will get the second 40 started for us.
41 min: A Knights dropped ball on their own 30 metre line puts the Warriors in great field position with a chance to regain the lead straight after the restart.
42 min: VIDEO REF: Possible try to Patrick Ah Van. Russell Smith has his work cut out for him here.
42 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors A sweet attacking chip kick from Grant Rovelli is plucked out of mid-air by a flying Patrick Ah Van who scores next to the posts. The video referee checked for a possible lost ball by Ah Van but ruled in favour of the New Zealand fullback. Ah Van converts his own try from close range. New Zealand Warriors 10-6
48 min: A Dureau bomb is taken by Kirk who returns the ball with interest, aided by Tate.
50 min: A poor 5th tackle kick plus great defence by the Warriors sees the Knights come up empty handed.
53 min: James McManus flies high to diffuse a cross field bomb by Nathan Fein. The Knights head upfield making easy yards.
56 min: Danny Buderus spills the ball in front of an open tryline, the Knights seem to be lacking structure in the oppostions 20 metre area.
59 min: A great chance for Newcastle here with a Warriors dropped ball 40 metres out.
60 min: Mullen spills the Steeden and the Warriors are let off the hook.
62 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Grant Rovelli takes the intercept on his own 10 metre line and sprints 80 metres only to be dragged down by Jarrod Mullen. The ball goes through several sets of hands before Ian Henderson barges over to put the Warriors in a very strong position with less than 20 minutes to go. Patrick Ah Van sneaks the conversion inside the right-hand upright for a 10 point lead. New Zealand Warriors 16-6
66 min: Ian Henderson belts a 40-20 kick and the Warriors have a chance to put this game almost out of reach for the locals, however the Knights intercept and go on the attack themselves, getting a repeat set of six from a Dureau grubber.
68 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Danny Buderus take a bow. A great cutout ball from dummy half hits Chris Bailey on the chest and he falls over the line to put the Knights back in with a shot. Wes Naiqama wastes no time from in front. New Zealand Warriors 16-12
70 min: We're headed for a close one here as the Knights get their 3rd penalty of the match and go straight on the attack.
71 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Adam MacDougall throws a speculator over his head for James McManus to score in the corner and we're all locked up at 16 all. Wes Naiqama sprays his conversion attempt wide to the right. 16 all
76 min: Five minutes to go and the game is there for anyone to win or lose.
77 min: Jarrod Mullen attempts a drop goal but it is wide to the left. Warriors have the restart from their own 20 metre line.
80 min: Grant Rovelli takes a match winning intercept to streak away and allow the clock to tick down to fulltime. The Knights had the perfect chance to steal the victory but come up short.