The Newcastle Knights have secured an ugly yet required 2 competition points against the New Zealand Warriors, winning 10 points to 6 in the lowest scoring game of 2021 thus far.
There was a huge breeze blowing throughout the whole game, and it had an immediate effect, with the Knights kickoff being so shallow that Reece Walsh was forced to take the first run of the afternoon.
The Knights had all the possession and field position early in the match, however it was the Warriors who looked as if they'd cross first against the run of play, with Reece Walsh making a huge run downfield off a kick return. He had no one in front of him, but Jayden Brailey produced an inspirational captains play to run him down about 2 metres short of the line.
On the ensuing set, the Warriors again looked over for all money, but Euan Aitken dropped it cold with nothing but daylight obstructing his 5 metre run to the line.
The Knights did a good job of building pressure, however it all counted for nought. Kurt Mann dropped the ball in the middle of a backline play and Euan Aitken was there to pounce. He was able to outrun Dom Young and score the first try of the match against all momentum.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon endured a terrible opening 25 minutes or so, knocking on twice in situations where the Knights were on the attack, but he made up for it around the 30 minute mark. Pearce threw a sweet short ball, and the line that he ran ensured he got over the top of Eli Katoa to hit back for the Knights.
The score remained 6-4 when Jake Clifford sprayed the conversion to the right.
The wind continued to wreak havoc, with the ball blowing off the tee before the Warriors had the chance to kick off.
When they finally were able to restart play, the ball went about 20 metres and sailed high through the sky. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck regathered, however the Warriors couldn't do anything with the golden attacking opportunity.
Reece Walsh had done well under the high ball up to the 50th minute, however he was unable to handle Clifford's spiralling bomb. RTS touched it in an offside position, and Clifford was able to level up with a penalty goal.
The game became an arm wrestle, but not the good kind of arm wrestle, with errors made ad-nauseum by both sides. Jake Clifford tried to break the game open with a 40/20 in the 70th minute, but again nothing came of the next couple of sets.
The Warriors turned their attention to the one-pointers, but Reece Walsh went 0/2, with his first attempt charged down and his second away to the left.
Enari Tuala then did break the game open, with an electric run up the middle before linking up with Connor Watson, who was brought down 5 short of the line.
The Knights took advantage of the momentum, swinging it left to find an open Brodie Jones, who crashed over to give the Knights the lead in the 77th minute.
The Warriors couldn't come back amidst a chaotic final 2 minutes.
Next round, the Warriors play the Dragons on the Central Coast on the Friday after Origin, while the Knights are back at home on the Saturday against the Cowboys.