Full Time
7:50pm Thu April 11, 2024
Round 6 - McDonald Jones Stadium, New Lambton / Awabakal - Crowd: 21940

Match Overview

A Roosters side without James Tedesco, Sam Walker or Dominic Young has claimed an upset 22-20 victory over the Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday night.

It was the Knights who started the game well, with Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best combining for a line break off a kick return. Later that set, Jackson Hastings got the ball from Adam Elliott and sold Victor Radley a dream before stepping inside and getting the games opening try. Just minutes later the Roosters gave away a cheap penalty after failing to beat the dropout shot clock, and the Knights extended the lead to 8-0.

But the Roosters picked up a relieving penalty and went straight on the attack, with Luke Keary and Joseph Manu combining to sent Daniel Tupou over in the corner. Making matters worse for the Knights, Ponga injured his hip while trying to challenge for the ball and would be significantly impacted for the remainder of the first half.

The injury began to swing the momentum, and a short time later Brandon Smith attacked out of dummy half and found Manu, who offloaded it to Keary who shifted it to Victor Radley for the try. Not long after that Smith dove out of dummy half again and not a single Knight laid a finger on him before he crossed the line to make the scores 16-8.

But the Knights would not yield, and in the dying stages of the half and completely against the run of play, Kai Pearce-Paul made a line break before finding  Ponga who hit Bradman Best with plenty of work to do, but he got it done for the four pointer to make the halftime score 16-14 in favour of the Roosters.

Ponga took some painkillers in the sheds and emerged for the second half looking in a lot less pain, but the opening stages of the half didn't offer much chance to stretch his legs. After 25 minutes where not much happened, the Roosters made a line break where Michael Jennings should have scored, but a play later Smith shifted the ball left where Terrell May turned into a textbook centre to send Tupou over for his second and push the lead to 8 points.

But Newcastle wouldn't die wondering, and with less than five minutes remaining Phoenix Crossland engaged the line and got  a nice offload to Elliot who worked his way under the posts for the try. Then in their final chance with the ball, Ponga made an excellent line break to set up an attacking opportunity, but the set ended meekly with Crossland grubbering the ball straight to May.

Manu was the clear cut man of the match for the Roosters, running for over 300 metres and having a hand in two of the teams tries. May was also phenomenal up the middle, while Smith was a menace around the ruck.

For the Knights, their reliance on Ponga was exposed as the team looked completely rudderless with him inebriated in the first half. While players like Elliot, Dane Gagai and Leo Thompson were excellent in their own right, they were overcome by a Roosters side which was missing multiple key players.

3. Joseph Manu

Ran for over 300 metres, a phenomenal performance from the stand-in fullback to start the Roosters sets off strong

2. Terrell May

Dominated the middle when he came onto the field, plenty of yardage, strong defence and even a try assist.

1. Brandon Smith

Was excellent around the ruck, continuously engaging the Knights line and picked up a try for his troubles.