After losing their unbeaten streak last weekend, the Newcastle Knights looked to bounce back against the Brisbane Broncos, who welcomed Isaac Luke into the side.
In the opening stages of the game, the Knights were on top in the territory battle and came close after Mitchell Pearce’s looping pass out to Edrick Lee should have been finished with a try. A poor pass ended that attacking play just a tackle later though.
After forcing a goal-line drop-out, Newcastle managed to pick up the opening try of the night.
Daniel Saifiti and David Klemmer both carried hard, and offloaded, which allowed Mitchell Pearce to take Brodie Croft out of the defensive line, pop the ball to Kurt Mann, who walked through a huge gap left by Croft to score.
It didn’t take long for the Broncos to hit back. In the 15th minute, Anthony Milford and Jamayne Isaako combined to release Corey Oates down the left-hand edge.
Oates did eventually ground the ball after Gehamat Shibasaki put in a great defensive effort. However, the try was disallowed after Isaako was deemed to have interfered with the tackle causing Shibasaki to lose control of Oates, which allowed the grounding of the ball.
Five minutes later, Isaako found himself in the sin-bin after Ponga made a break straight through the middle of the park, and the full-back stopped his opposite number from playing the ball.
Moments later, Newcastle picked up try number two.
Kurt Mann ran out of room to pass the ball, so dropped it onto his foot for Hymel Hunt to collect and slide over to score.
The Knights were pressing for try number three and looked for all money to extend their lead.
However, Andrew McCulloughs long pass from dummy-half was picked off by Xavier Coates just a few metres from his own goal-line and the winger raced away for a 100-metre try.
As the first half drew to a close, the Broncos were working their way back into the game, but Ponga and McCullough both cleaned up poor fifth tackle kicks.
With the Knights in control of the ball in the final seconds, Mitchell Pearce struck a field-goal to give them a seven-point lead at the break.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 13-6 Brisbane Broncos
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first, as the Knights controlled the territorial battle once more.
It only took them three minutes to score this time though, as Daniel Saifiti refused to be brought to ground and twisted out of the tackle by Joe Ofahenguae and Tevita Pangai Jr, and dropped over the try line.
An illegal ball strip from Alex Glenn allowed the Knights to attack the try line from just 15-metres out.
Despite Brodie Croft cleaning up on the fifth tackle, Pangai Jr dropped the ball in the next tackle which kept the pressure on his side.
A few tackles later, Patrick Carrigan clattered Pearce with a late shot in the back. This left the Broncos down to 12 men once again, after the loose-forward was sin-binned for the offence.
Ponga opted to kick for two points and with 20 minutes to go, the Knights led 21-6.
With just under 15 minutes to go, the Broncos knew they’d have to score three times to pick up the victory.
They came close to picking up one of those almost instantly, this time through Herbie Farnworth.
The English centre got on the outside of Bradman Best and attempted an offload to Xavier Coates. Unfortunately, he was in too much of an awkward position to get the ball away properly and knocked-on.
After a quiet spell, the clock was firmly on the side of Newcastle, and with five minutes to go, they looked to close the game out by drilling the ball as deep into the Broncos half, and into touch whenever possible.
With two minutes remaining, the Knights put the icing on the cake, as Pearce stepped off his right foot to get past Matt Lodge, and again to get past Payne Hass and busted through Isaako and Carrigan to score under the posts.
The Knights received the kick-off and with less than a minute to go, just carried the ball upfield and the game was closed out.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 27-6 Brisbane Broncos
Ponga, Lee, Best, Shibasaki, Hunt, Mann, Pearce, Klemmer, McCullough, D. Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Mata’utia, Ese’ese
Interchanges: Ese’ese. Hoy, J. Saifiti, Guerra
Tries: Mann, Hunt, D. Saifiti, Pearce
Goals: Ponga (5/5)
Isaako, Oates, Farnworth, Boyd, Coates, Milford, Croft, Lodge, Luke, Haas, Glenn, Pangai Jr, Carrigan
Interchanges: Paix, Te’o, Ofahengaue, Flegler
Goals: Farnworth (1/1)
Sin-Bins: Isaako, Carrigan
Referee: G. Sutton
Touch Judges: T. Roby, P. Henderson
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)