Knights survive second half scare to beat Wests Tigers

Newcastle have overcome an almighty second half scare to put a difficult week behind them with a 14-10 win over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Sunday.

A lacklustre match between two teams desperately trying to avoid finishing on the bottom of the ladder looked like one-way traffic early before it came to life as the Wests Tigers tried to get back into the game after trailing 14-0.

The Knights took advantage of some flimsy left edge defence from the home side in the first half to run in three tries for a 14-0 lead.

A double to Enari Tuala started proceedings before departing Knight Tex Hoy bounced off Adam Doueihi's tackle attempt to cross for the visitors' third.




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The Wests Tigers needed to be first to score in the second half and did courtesy of a spiralling Doueihi bomb that left Dominic Young bamboozled and allowed for Brent Naden to cross over.

Naden's try brought the crowd into the game and the home side began to lift with Doueihi's boot continuing to pepper the Knights, who started to lose their way with a number of ruck errors.

A third error in as many minutes allowed the Tigers to score their second with Asu Kepaoa getting on the outside of Dane Gagai on the left edge.

The Tigers had their chances to level the scores, and even win the game, right up until the final minute, but Newcastle's defence - despite being the worst in the league - came up trumps in a hard-fought victory.

Match snapshot

  • Knights playmaker Anthony Milford was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Brent Naden in the third minute.
  • Enari Tuala scored the sixth double of his NRL career when he crossed twice in the first half.
  • Ken Maumalo failed to finish the match due to a suspected PCL injury while Jacob Saifiti left the field late due to a head knock.
  • Newcastle completed seven of 14 sets in the second half to allow the Wests Tigers back into the game. 
  • Dane Gagai produced his best game of the year with 191 metres and 14 tackle busts in the win.
  • The Wests Tigers halves ran for a combined 37 runs between them with Adam Doueihi (144 metres) and Jock Madden (110 metres).
  • Both Madden and Anthony Milford produced 40/20 kicks but neither side could capitalise on the field position.
  • Wests Tigers have now lost their last five games at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
  • Newcastle's victory now puts them into 13th, two points clear of the Warriors.

Play of the game
It happened late and will go unnoticed but Mitch Barnett's two tackles coming across in cover with seconds left on the clock proved crucial, including the one on a rampaging Kelma Tuilagi. 

The departing Barnett, who will join the Warriors next season, then backed it up with a tackle on Jock Madden to kill the next tackle before an effort on fulltime. 

What they said
"Definitely a relief for everyone... players, staff, families... it was ugly but I don't care, we got it done. I thought the two or three minutes before half-time and before full-time summed up what we want to be. We'll get some things wrong and it will be ugly at times but they fought hard in those periods and kept turning them away. It was a tough week but really happy for the players, they rallied and I'm proud of them." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien.

"We've been consistent for a month and played some really tough football so really disappointed in our performance today. We've addressed it quickly that the NRL is a hard competition and last week's result doesn't mean you win this week. We were pretty poor today and it's disappointing in our last game out here in the Macarthur region. It's not the best feeling." - Wests Tigers coach Brett Kimmorley.

What's next
Wests Tigers will host a match in Tamworth against the Sharks on Saturday night while the Knights will travel to Suncorp Stadium for a match against the Broncos. It's expected that David Klemmer will return to the side following a one-match disciplinary ban.




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Alicia Newton, NRL Reporter