The Newcastle Knights didn’t have to travel far as they faced the New Zealand Warriors in Tamworth, in an away fixture, with both sides having something to play for in the home straight
The Warriors started the brighter, winning the early territorial battle.
After multiple repeat sets, Kodi Nikorima moved the ball to the right-edge and Peta Hiku pushed off Enari Tuala which caused Starford To’a to get dragged in.
This allowed Hiku to get a pass away to Adam Pompey who dived over in the corner to open the scores.
In the 15th minute, Lachlan Fitzgibbon was penalised for a dangerous tackle just short of the 20-metre line, and Harris-Tavita made sure to make it 8-0 from the boot.
The Knights got themselves back on the board five minutes later as Mitchell Pearce’s kick was claimed by Gehamat Shibasaki ahead of George Jennings, and the centre beat Harris-Tavita to the line and score.
Just before the 25th minute, it looked as though Pearce appeared to give the visitors the lead.
However, in his attempt to dive over the line, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck stripped the ball out of the tackle in the act of scoring and the try was disallowed.
HALF-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 8-6 Newcastle Knights
Once again it was the home side who started the better of the two sides.
Daniel Alvaro crashed over from two metres out, but a desperate attempt of two Knights defenders stopped the front-rower.
With half an hour to go, the Warriors were camping inside the Newcastle half and looked to extend their lead.
Once again, it was Tuivasa-Sheck who pulled out off the tricks to step past Pearce and push off towards the try-line and beat the lunge off Ponga to score.
With only a quarter of the game left, the Warriors were in control but needed one more score to give themselves some breathing room.
Hiku picked the ball up on the right edge and managed to throw a superb flick-pass offload out the back to find Adam Pompey to pick up his second of the afternoon.
Starford To’a made a break straight through the middle of the Warriors defence and looked as though he’d get to the line, but Harris-Tavita managed to bring the winger down, and then clear up the next effort from Mitch Barnett.
With ten minutes to go, the Warriors all but secured the win as Tuivasa-Sheck combined with Hayze Perham on the left-edge, after Harris-Tevita switched the play, the allowed George Jennings to walk over an easy try.
The Knights top-four aspirations were even more damaged as Tuivasa-Sheck picked up the ball at first receiver, stepped inside Pearce again, and beat the stretched out arm of Ponga, and strolled in for his second of the game.
Jazz Tevaga wanted to get on the scoreboard as well, as he collected the ball just two meters out and ran straight past Pearce and company for try number six.
FULL-TIME: New Zealand Warriors 36-6 Newcastle Knights
New Zealand Warriors
Tuivasa-Sheck, Pompey, Perham, Hiku, Jennings, Nikorima, Harris-Tavita, Taunoa-Brown, Lawton, Burr, Katoa, Harris, Tevaga
Interchanges: Egan, Blair, Alvaro, Murchie
Tries: Pompey (2), Tuivasa-Sheck (2), Jennings, Tevaga
Goals: Harris-Tavita (6/7)
Ponga, To’a, Tuala, Shibasaki, Hunt, Lino, Pearce, Klemmer, Mann, Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Guerra, Barnett
Interchanges: Ese’ese, King, Saulo, Randall
Goals: Ponga (1/1)
Referee: M. Cecchin
Touch Judges: T. Smith, G. Badger
Video Referee: B. Lowe
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)