New Zealand Warriors travelled to the Newcastle to face the Knights in torrid conditions to kick-off the first Super Saturday of the season.
Early back-to-back penalties against the Knights,made it look as though the Warriors would be the first to get on the scoreboard but great defence from Kalyn Ponga in the number one jersey kept the scores to nil.
Their defensive qualities quickly turned into an offensive rampage as a carry from Daniel Saifiti was too quick, and too strong for the visitors defence and he powered through for the first try.
With the rain and wind hammering the players, the lack of open playing style was suiting the Knights, who were charging up through the middle of the Warriors with ease.
However, after a solid set, Mitchell Pearce dropped the wet ball to let the Warriors off the hook.
Newcastle were finding it easy to bring the ball out from their own line, with the visitors giving away plenty of penalties.
This ill-discipline was punished just before the 20th minute, as a fifth tackle kick ricocheted around into the hands of Kurt Mann, and a simple pass from the half-back to Edrick Lee allowed the big winger to slide over in plenty of space.
Due to the ill-discipline of the Warriors, they found themselves down to 12-men just a few moments later.
Chanel Harris-Tavita was the latest to give away an error after messing around at the play the ball and after a team warning had already been given, the half-back found himself taking a 10 minute break.
With the numerical advantage of the pitch and the scoreboard, the Knights were doing their best to exploit the extra space, but a knock-on from Mann in an attempt to pass kept the score at 10-0.
A 40/20 from Blake Green gave the Warriors a good opportunity to narrow the deficit but his kick on the last was snuffed out by Ponga.
After half an hour, the visitors had another chance to get on the scoreboard. Four penalties in a row from the Knights meant they had to face five sets on their own line. However, a poorly executed kick from the returning Harris-Tavita put a stop to any advance.
A back and forth ensued for the remaining 10 minutes, as the half came to a close.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 10-0 New Zealand Warriors
The second half continued in the same fashion as most of the first as an error from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck followed by a penalty from Jamayne Taunoa-Brown meant that Ponga could push the Knights into a 12-0.
Further ill-discipline from the visitors meant that lead was pushed to 14, with referee, Henry Perenara, warning Warriors captain, Tuivasa-Sheck that if they failed to tidy up the game, they would lose another player for a portion of the game.
The Knights smelt blood as the Warriors began to falter, and with the defensive line at sixes and sevens, a deft kick from Mitchell Pearce bounced perfectly into the hands of Ponga who dived over the line.
The Warriors managed to get the ball inside the Newcastle 20-metre area and were close to grabbing a score of their own, unfortunately nobody could grab Blake Green’s high kick and the Knights escaped unscathed.
Newcastle won themselves another penalty just after the hour mark, but due to the space of time between this and the last penalty, the Warriors didn’t lose a man.
A tiny bit of history followed, as Tuivasa-Sheck managed to overturn a referee’s decision, the first successful Captain’s Challenge of the season. Perenara deemed that the Tohu Harris had knocked on, but on second viewing, Tim Glasby was the first to touch the ball forward.
With the rain falling heavily once again, Tuivasa-Sheck knocked on in-front of his own line, and from the resulting scrum the Knights crossed the line once more.
An offload from David Klemmer to Connor Watson, and the young hooker burrowed his was over from short range, unfortunately for the home-side he was held up.
With the game all but won for the Knights, the spaces in their defence opened up a little but a poor pass from Harris-Tavita was picked off by Mitchell Pearce to shut down that attack.
The remaining four minutes of the game were controlled by the Warriors as they were determined not to be nilled in Round One and they were so close to succeeding.
Tuivasa-Sheck found the try-line begging but out of nowhere, Edrick Lee came across and chopped down the hot-stepping full-back.
The visitors had the ball in the final minute, and but stern defence from the Knights meant that they had no chance of getting through.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 20-0 New Zealand Warriors
Ponga, Lee, Tuala, Shibasaka, Hunt, Mann, Pearce, Klemmer, Brailey, D. Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Barnett, Ese’ese.
Interchanges: Watson, J. Saifiti, Glasby, Guerra.
Tries: D. Saifiti, Lee, Ponga
Goals: Ponga (4/5)
New Zealand Warriors
Tuivasa-Sheck, Herbert, Fusitu’a, Hiku, Maumalo, Harris-Tavita, Green, Ah Mau, Egan, Burr, Blair, Harris, Papali’i.
Interchanges: Nikorima, Taunoa-Brown, Katoa, Vuniyayawa.