Dragons finish on a high over under-strength Melbourne
16 hours ago | Josh Robertson
The Knights have taken a giant step in the right direction with a dominant 44-4 win over the Tigers.
Saturday night's clash shaped as a key one for both side's finals aspirations as form slumps threatened to derail their seasons.
A 48-0 thumping of Brisbane was the only highlight in an otherwise dismal month for the Tigers who went down to the Warriors last weekend.
Newcastle, on the other hand, were still reeling from injuries to Andrew McCullough and Connor Watson and then lost teenage sensation Bradman Best. Back-to-back losses to the Bulldogs and Storm, along with their developing injury crisis had most ruling them out of doing anything in the post-season if they even made it. But the signing of Blake Green gave Knights fans some optimism.
The Tigers weren't without their own boost of confidence, looking to celebrate milestone games for Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence. The response from Michael Maguire's men was anything but what was expected though. The Tigers looked far from a team fighting for a finals spot and looking to pay tribute to two of its greatest servants. Their season and any hopes of breaking their finals drought were falling apart in front of our very eyes.
This is not to take anything away from the Knights, who constantly heaped pressure on the Tigers in a relentless performance. Mitchell Pearce combined well with Green, with the latter taking some pressure off the Newcastle halfback. Kalyn Ponga terrorised the Tigers on the edge, finishing with two tries, two try assists, three linebreaks and two linebreak assists on top of 194 run metres.
The trio couldn't weave their magic if it wasn't for a dominant display from their big men. Their starting props - David Klemmer and Jacob Saifiti - were particularly impressive as they finished with 335 running metres between them.
The Tigers play the Bulldogs next week but it doesn't get any easier from there. The nightmare run home for Maguire's men sees them face the Roosters, Panthers, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Storm and Eels. They have next to no chance of finishing in the finals based off Saturday night's effort.
Newcastle have a relatively favourable run home but take on the desperate Sea Eagles next week.
Newcastle Knights 44 - Wests Tigers 4
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 24 Wests Tigers 4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Kalyn Ponga
2 points - David Klemmer
1 points - Kurt Mann
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (44)
Tries: Kalyn Ponga (2), Hymel Hunt, Starford To'a, Jacob Saifiti, Herman Ese'ese, Gehamat Shibasaki, Phoenix Crossland
Conversions: Kalyn Ponga (5/8)
Penalty Goals: Kalyn Ponga (1/1)
WESTS TIGERS (4)
Tries: Luciano Leilua
Conversions: Moses Mbye (0/1)