Newcastle Knights remain unbeaten in the 2021 campaign after a tense 20-16 success against New Zealand Warriors tonight at Central Coast stadium.
Two sides who were first-up winners clashed at the drenched Central Coast Stadium, the Knights weren't flash but did enough to get their second win of the season. Two moments of brilliance from young centre Bradman Best saw them topple the Warriors.
Tonight was the first time Warriors coach Nathan Brown had come up against his former side. His side showed flashes of last weekend's work but some poor errors in the first half and tired defending put them on the losing side. For the Knights, they will be happy to get one back on their former mentor.
Coming off their season opener, the Knights headed the short distance to Gosford and look to keep their run up. The first half was tight, both sides were understandably safe in the wet conditions. Jayden Brailey broke the deadlock with a dart from dummy-half for 6-nil.
It looked like Warriors rake, Wayde Egan had responded with his own burrowed effort which was denied. New Zealand quickly made amends with Ben Murdoch-Masila steaming over for his first four pointer since 2013. Kodi Nikorima raised the flags for 6-6.
The Knights edged ahead 8-6 at the break due to a late Mitch Barnett penalty goal then extended that to an eight-point lead in the 49th minute. Best drew in his defender and produced a fantastic flick pass to send Hymel Hunt across.
There was plenty of fight left in the Warriors side. Departing fullback, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck turned playmaker twice to send Adam Pompey across in the 57th then after another period of the arm wrestle, gave the Warriors the lead with his slick pass to winger Ken Maumalo, making it 16-14.
As time ticked down, it looked like the Warriors would edge the contest. They rolled through their sets and found the kick well. It came down to another bit of Best brilliance. Early ball from interchange utility Connor Watson opened up the space for Best to stride free then again, Hunt finished off to send the hearty Novocastrian contingent home happy, 20-16.
The Warriors will have a few restless nights with both backrower Eliasa Katoa and firebrand Jazz Tevaga put on report for incidents. Newcastle got through the game unscathed and will welcome back superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga soon.