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The Newcastle Knights reluctance to give up has seen them claw themselves back into their game against Manly and eventually secure a 26-24 win with a late try at McDonald Jones Stadium this afternoon.
It was Manly who got off to a flying start and scored first in just the third minute. Daly Cherry-Evans' bomb was allowed to bounce near the left sideline. Brad Parker leapt over the sideline and swatted the ball back into the field of play. Cade Cust regathers and then gets a kick back in-field miraculously without going into touch and then chases his own kick to plant down it for a sensational try! Reuben Garrick converted.
Just five minutes passed before Manly scored again, this time when a nice left side play resulted in Taniela Paseka hitting a gap and making a break, before drawing the fullback and then passing to Cherry-Evans, who raced away to score a good try under the sticks. Garrick again added the extras.
The Knights finally got on the board in the 21st minute via some second phase play which resulted in Mitchell Pearce firing a hard, low, long ball to Kalyn Ponga. Ponga managed to catch it at full speed, before throwing a quick cut-out ball to Starford To'a in space. The winger bounced out of one hit before being tackled over the line, yet still managed to get the ball down for a good try on the left side. Ponga converted from the sideline.
Seven minutes later and the Knights levelled the scores. Kurt Mann at dummy half and 5 metres from the Manly line, threw a dummy, then it seemed as if he waited for Manly to react, which they did - then he darted between two stationary defenders to dive over for a try. Ponga converted.
Just on halftime the Knights snuck ahead when a Blake Green kick gets batted back by To'a. Lachlan Fitzgibbon catches the ball but is immediately held up in a tackle, yet he managed to get an offload out to Enari Tuala who dived over the in left corner to score a good try. Ponga failed to add the extras.
The Knights skipped ahead even further just five minutes into the second half after Jack Gosiewski caught a Mitchell Pearce bomb, but Gehamat Shibasaki stole it fairly in the air. Parker's tackle forced the ball backwards, where it hit Aiden Guerra's foot. He then picked it up and passed it out the back to Hunt who scored. Ponga just missed the difficult conversion attempt.
Manly then scored 2 quick tries to reclaim the lead.
In the 51st minute Cherry-Evans put in a crafty little grubber behind the Knights goal-line defence and Jack Gosiewski cleaned it up and scored on the left side. Garrick added the extras.
Four minutes later the crossed again thanks to a fantastic double inside passing play by Manly through the middle. Cust drifted to the left of the posts then passed inside to Paseka where the big man flicked a stunning ball right to Lachlan Croker backing up and he managed to get the ball down for a try, despite the efforts of Ponga. Garrick again converted and Manly lead by 4.
The Knights very nearly scored a number of times but only for forward passes or poor handling to deny them. But in the 72nd minute Ponga took the ball to the line and then fired a flat ball to Tuala who stepped back infield, beat two defenders and then reached out to dunk the ball down for a try.
Ponga converted to give the Knights the lead and eventually the win.
Newcastle Knights 26 - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 24
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 16 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Kalyn Ponga
2 points - Cade Cust
1 points - Taniela Paseka
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (26)
Tries: Starford To'a, Kurt Mann, Enari Tuala (2), Hymel Hunt
Conversions: Kalyn Ponga (3/5)
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (24)
Tries: Cade Cust, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jack Gosiewski, Lachlan Croker
Conversions: Reuben Garrick (4/4)