The Canberra Raiders failed to capitalise on their recent form as they fell to the Newcastle Knights 34-24 in the first game of a triple header at Suncorp Stadium today.
It was the perfect start by the Newcastle Knights who scored in the fifth minute through Enari Tuala after the Knights shifted the ball to the left side of the field with Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best combining, which gave Tuala space to run into. He had options on his inside but went himself and proved too big and strong for the Raiders defenders to stop.
It only took a few minutes before the Knights doubled their lead. Newcastle once again attacked down the left edge as Ponga and Best combined once again but this time it was Best who got the chocolates as he barged his way over a tackle close to the line.
The Knights continued their superb start with Kurt Mann joining Tuala and Best on the scoresheet as he contested a Jake Clifford bomb and was rewarded as he caught it in mid air and grounded the ball as he landed to send a statement to the Raiders.
The Raiders finally responded through Harley Smith-Shields as Canberra shifted the ball right and fullback Jordan Rapana did a superb job holding the defenders up before he passed to Smith-Shields with gave the winger enough room to score in the corner.
Canberra had plenty of opportunities at keeping the Knights in their own half but failed to do so through their undisciplined play. These missed opportunities allowed the Knights to strike a devastating blow as Enari Tuala scored his second try of the afternoon in the dying stages of the first half. The Knights shifted the ball left once again, after a line break from Jake Clifford. Best and Ponga combined again to set up Tuala's try, the third try that both the left centre and fullback have been involved in.
The Green Machine opened the scoring in the second term as they needed to do with Josh Papali'I tucked the football under his arm and beat David Klemmer with some nice foot work as he went over the try line to score next to the posts. However, it would mostly be the Knights from here on in. Just moments after the Radiers try, the Knights were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and they opted to take the two, extending their lead to two converted tries.
As they did in the first half, the Knights continued to attack down the left edge and were rewarded once again as Enari Tuala grabbed his third try of the afternoon as Ponga threw a brilliant cut out ball across the face Best which found the winger in space and Tuala grounded the ball in typical winger's fashion.
The Raiders continued to drop the ball at the worst moments as they failed to fight their way back into the match and in the 66th minute Kalyn Ponga put the Raiders to rest as he took on the defensive line on the first play from the scrum and was too hard to stop as he rolled across the white stripe to score the Knight's sixth try of the afternoon.
Canberra managed to grab two late tries to improve the score in their favour but it was too little too late for the ‘away' side. The two tries came through Hudson Young who capitalised on space after Jack Wighton made a line break and the second came through Emre Guler who took advantage of a tiring Newcastle defence as he put some footwork on at the line to weasel his way into a gap and grounded the ball right on the line.
That was an important win for the Knights who are now sitting level with the Sharks, Dragons and Raiders on 18 points as they battle for a spot in the final eight. On the other hand the Raiders will be filthy with their performance this afternoon as a win would've taken them to seventh on the competition ladder.