New Zealand Warriors 26 def. Newcastle Knights 22
The New Zealand Warriors will take two points back across the Tasman tonight after a solid 26-22 victory against the Newcastle Knights at EnergyAustralia Stadium.
With Andrew Johns ruled out through an injury to his neck, the Warriors were always a good chance of stretching the Knights in front of another big crowd. But the early signs were good for the home team, racing to a 10-0 lead through tries to Todd Lowrie and Matt Gidley.
The game turned into an arm-wrestle, with the Warriors forwards applying pressure to the Knights defence and also their kicking options late in the tackle count. With two converted tries to hulking winger Manu Vatuvei and replacement forward Evarn Tuimavave plus a penalty goal, the visitors took a 14-10 advantage into the break.
It didn?t take the Warriors too long to resume after returning from the sheds, with a try to plucky utility replacement Grant Rovelli in the 43rd minute opening up a 10-point lead and putting Newcastle to the sword. From there they were always chasing the Warriors but a try to Steve Simpson in the 51st minute got them within striking distance at 20-16.
Both teams then laid converted on tries through Fien for the Warriors (54th minute) and a second to Matt Gidley in the 61st minute setting up a furious final quarter of the match.
The video referee was called upon to adjudicate on possible tries to the Warriors in the 70th minute and the Knights via Irish winger Brian Carney in the 75th minute but both were denied. The Warriors then managed to wind down the clock and record a memorable victory in Newcastle for the second year in a row. Ironically, it wasn?t until Johns suffered a broken jaw late in the first half last year that New Zealand stormed home to win.
Most of the post-match talk will no doubt centre on Newcastle?s inability to win without Johns in the team, but they did face up against a Warriors outfit that have been improving each week and arrived full of enthusiasm to get back to square on the ladder.
The Knights have a tough road trip ahead of them next week, travelling to Wollongong to take on the Dragons whilst the Warriors are at home to the Sea Eagles in what?s sure to be a tough encounter played out through the forwards.
By the clock:
Newcastle Knights: 22
Tries: Matthew Gidley(2), Todd Lowrie, Steve Simpson
Goals: Kurt Gidley 3/4
New Zealand Warriors: 26
Tries: Nathan Fien, Grant Rovelli, Evarn Tuimavave, Manu Vatuvei
Goals: Tony Martin 5/5
Energy Australia Stadium
Referee: Russell Smith
Sunny day up here in Newcastle. Big news is that Andrew Johns is out of the match with a crook neck. Jarrod Mullen comes in at five-eighth with Kurt Gidley pushing into halfback.
1 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half!
5 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
The Knights get on the board early with a try to forward Lowrie. Kurt Gidley converts and the Knights take a nice early lead.
14 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
Matt Gidley jinks and weaves his way to the line out wide. His brother Kurt can't convert but the Knights are looking sharp early.
20 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors are on the board with a penalty goal thanks to an indiscretion by the Knights.
27 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors tighten up the game with a good try to Tuimavave. They're looking ok at the moment and playing enthusiastically. Martin converts and the gap is now only 2 points.
40 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Vatuvei, the hulking Warriors winger, storms over for the visitors just as the buzzer is sounding. With Martin's conversion the Warriors have a 4 point advantage going into the break.
40 min: NEWS Halftime: The Knights started the match on fire, but it seems they could be missing the presence of Johns. The Warriors slowly ground their way back into the contest and now lead at the break. Still anyone's game and is shaping as a terrific duel.
41 min: NEWS We're underway in the final 40 here at Newcastle!
43 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Clever try to replacement Rovelli and the Warriors push ahead. Martine converts.
51 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
Big backrower Steve Simpson barges his way to a try and get the Knights rolling again. Kurt Gidley converts.
54 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Halfback Fien chimes in and bags another one for the visitors. They're playing really well and look as though they're going to cause a major upset. Martin converts and the lead is out to 10.
61 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
It's a Gidley-athon out here with Matthew scoring his second try and getting the Knights back into the contest. His brother Kurt converts. The lead is back to 4 in favour of the Warriors.
70 min: NEWS Video referee denies the Warriors a try that could have sewn up the game.
75 min: NEWS Video referee denies a try to Brian Carney in the corner. Warriors are hanging on!
77 min: NEWS Crowd - 18,359
80 min: NEWS The Warriors hang on to record a memorable victory over the Knights, minus Joey, in Newcastle for the second year in a row.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Nathan Fien (Warriors)
2 - Steve Price (Warriors)
1 - Matthew Gidley (Knights)
Warriors stun Knights at home