Mullen stars as Knights hang on 13-12 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mullen stars as Knights hang on 13-12

By David Beniuk 03/05/2008 08:55:15 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle's forgotten man, Jarrod Mullen, sent a timely reminder to NSW State of Origin selectors, starring in the Knights' thrilling 13-12 upset of table-topping Gold Coast at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

The Knights halfback, who played the Origin series opener for NSW last year, scored a superb individual try, set up another and potted the decisive field goal as the home side grimly held off a furious second half fightback from the Titans.

It finished at two tries apiece, Mullen and Wes Naiqama scoring for Newcastle in the first half and Scott Prince and Mark Minichiello crossing for the visitors in the second.

Kurt Gidley booted two goals for the Knights while Prince kicked two for the Titans.

Mullen, who did not play in last night's City-Country match and only returned for the Knights from injury tonight, threw down the gauntlet to Origin No.7 hopefuls Brett Finch, Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney with a superb first half performance.

"He looked fantastic on the try that he scored," coach Brian Smith said.

"When he gets the ball in a broken field situation or with some momentum, he's dynamite carrying the ball."

Mullen's chip kick in the 20th minute led to a controversial try for Naiqama, who outleapt the Titans defence but appeared to get a touch forward before Smith awarded the four-pointer.

He took the Knights further ahead in the 35th minute when he sliced through from 20m out after second-rower Chris Houston had popped a ball out the back to help the Knights to a 12-0 halftime lead.

The Titans applied the second half pressure - but it still took the visitors until the 61st minute to get over the line.

Video referee Russell Smith had denied them twice, in the 50th and 60th minutes, before sending a decision back to referee Gavin Badger in the 61st.

On that occasion Smith couldn't decide whether Prince had planted the ball over the line and the "ref's call" saw Badger award another contentious try.

The Titans had pulled it back to 12-6 but Mullen made the buffer seven in the 69th minute before Gold Coast forward Minichiello crashed over in the 72nd.

It took some heroic bomb defusing from outstanding fullback Gidley and some ball-dislodging defence from winger James McManus for the Knights to hang on as Prince missed his own shot at a one-pointer.

Newcastle went into the game without skipper Danny Buderus, who failed to back up from last night's City-Country clash, but his replacement Matt Hilder had a blinder against his former club.

"It's not often you tell a player as good as that that you might be able to do without him," Smith said of Buderus missing the game.

"And no Simmo (Steve Simpson) and no Adam MacDougall (not used from the bench) ... and of course no A. Johns.

"It will be a long time I think since Newcastle have beaten a team at the top of the table without those three or four top line players.

"I don't think we're any great team like the Newcastle teams from the past as yet but we're showing some of those things ... they were famous for being tough and hard to beat."

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