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Drama aplenty at the Newcastle Knights refurbished home ground, EnergyAustralia Stadium, today when the New Zealand Warriors came back from the dead to take out their Round 6 clash against the Knights.
Andrew Johns, back to his best, led his team to a 12-0 lead at the 10 minute mark. The Warriors, rattled and losing discipline, allowed the Newcastle side to lead 20-0 with ten minutes to go in the half. This was Newcastle's game, although the loss of Abraham with a broken leg in the half casting a shadow over the game. The team from New Zealand were at sixes and sevens and were handing the game to the home side.
A try on the bell, from a rare mistake by Newcastle, allowed Sione Faumuina to score for Warriors, Stacey Jones had no problem with the conversion and the break saw the score board showing 20-6. Newcastle had been superior in the half and deserved their big lead.
Ten minutes into the half and the Warriors were playing much better football. A try to Manu Vatuvei saw it 20-10. Eighteen minutes out from full time and the Warriors have pulled it back to 26-20. Three minutes later the unthinkable happens and Andrew Johns is taken from the field with a suspected broken jaw, which was later confirmed, a tragic loss. The Warriors, sniffing an unlikely victory, go on to score two more tries and take the game 30-26.
KNIGHTS 26 Tries: Tighe, Abraham, Carmont 2, Lowrie Goals: Johns 3/5 WARRIORS 30 Tries: Faumuina, Vatuvei 2, Toopi, Byrne, Meli Goals: Jones 3/6
By the clock:
Unchanged lineup for the Warriors hit with 3 suspended players and missing fullback Webb through injury. The Knights welcome back Buderus at home for the first time in 2005.
0 min: Kick off. Late change for the Warriors, TeMata to start, Paleaasina on the bench. A very warm day in Newcastle
4th min: NEWS - The Warriors hot on attack following a terrific kick on the 5th by Byrne. Guttenbeil puts the ball down right on the line
6th min: TRY - KNIGHTS Buderus and Johns magic has returned. Tighe has a free run to the tryline out wide. Johns with the sun in his face hits a pearler of a conversion. Knights 6-0
10th min: TRY - KNIGHTS A mistake close to the Knights tryline by the Warriors is pounced upon by Carmont. Quick plays and Abraham is over out wide. Johns from the sideline knocks over another beaut kick. Knights 12-0
15th min: NEWS - Mistakes and ill discipline costing the Warriors points. Penalty count already 3-0 against the visitors
20th min: NEWS - The Knights looking good on attack and making the metres. The Warriors looking a little rattled. Knights lead 12-0
24th min: TRY - KNIGHTS Patience prevails as the Knights use the cut out pass to perfection. Meli comes in from his wing allowing Carmont over in the corner. Johns from the sideline once more, misses his first conversion of the afternoon. Knights 16-0
27th min: NEWS - Abraham (Knights) leaving the field on a stretcher with a serious leg injury
30th min: TRY - KNIGHTS A deft little grubber to the in goal by Johns is played at by Byrne with his feet. Knights players swarm everywhere with Lowrie diving on the ball to score. Johns kick hits the post. Knights 20-0
35th min: NEWS - The Knights on fire and the Warriors really on the back foot right throughout this half
38th min: NO TRY - KNIGHTS Tighe takes out the corner post as once again the Knights hit their line with force. 20 metre restart to the Warriors
40th min: TRY - WARRIORS A mistake by the Knights 15 metres out from the line gives the Warriors another attacking chance just before the hooter. Solid play by the visitors finally results in Faumuina getting across the line. Jones converts. Knights 20-6
HALFTIME: Just about all one way traffic in Newcastle with the Knights looking good. The Warriors discipline and unforced errors killing the game for the visitors
Second half underway..
43rd min: NEWS - Johns (Knights)with a huge punt down field looks to have a 40/20 but great work by Ropati to keep the ball in play is backed up by Vatuvei to save the possession for the Warriors. Knights lead 20-6
48th min: NEWS - 4 penalties in a row and some great defence by Villasanti and Anderson have lifted the Warriors out of 1st gear
49th min: TRY - WARRIORS With the aid of some much needed possession and go forward the Warriors have scored first after the break. Vatuvei close to his line drags 4 Knights defenders over the line with him and manages to touch the ball down. Jones misses the conversion from the sideline. Knights 20-10
53rd min: TRY - KNIGHTS The Knights hit back at the Warriors almost straight away with Carmont dotting over for his 2nd. Once again Johns and Gidley carving up the opposition. Johns converts. Knights 26-10
60th min: NEWS - The Knights can smell the victory and are continuously in the faces of the Warriors players.
62nd min: TRY - WARRIORS Sloppy play 40 metres out from the Warriors line is finally cleaned up by the visitors. A great pass by Toopi to a flying Vatuvei sees him storming unopposed to the line. Jones with an easy conversion, adds the 2 points. Knights 26-16
65th min: NEWS - Johns (Knights) cops an accidental shoulder on his jaw and has left the field. It does not look good, most probably broken
68th min: TRY - WARRIORS A major turn around in this second half by the Warriors. Jones starting the razzle dazzle play by the Warriors who flick the ball out to Toopi who scores. Jones misses the conversion. Knights 26-20
70th min: NEWS - It's official, Andrew Johns has a broken jaw, sad news for the fans
73rd min: TRY - WARRIORS A penalty right on their line set up the try for the Warriors. Safe hands and Byrne goes around behind the posts to score. Jones from out in front, converts. 26 all
79th min: TRY - WARRIORS Unbelievably the Warriors have scored in the dying minutes to take the victory. Meli who has had a quiet game did what it took to win the game twisting through the defence out wide to score. Jones misses the conversion but the Warriors players and fans don't care. Warriors 30-26
FULLTIME: What a turn around. An exciting game for all concerned but the loss of Johns devastating for everyone. A tough win for the Warriors
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - S Price(Warriors) 2 - I Paleaasina (Warriors) 1 - A Johns (Knights) -----------------------------------------