Delight for Newcastle, agony for Tigers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Delight for Newcastle, agony for Tigers

By Todd Balym 31/08/2007 10:57:26 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle have finally had some joy after a tough month, claiming a remarkable 26-24 NRL victory over the Wests Tigers to end the most difficult period in the club's history and possibly save the Knights from a second wooden spoon in three years.

A penalty goal by Kurt Gidley from 31 metres out after the siren handed Newcastle their first win since July 9, the amazing come-from-behind win knocking the Tigers out of finals contention.

Rookie Cory Paterson produced a one-on-one strip on Tigers five-eighth John Morris with 12 seconds remaining to give Newcastle the ball and skipper Danny Buderus quickly earned a penalty by darting out of dummy half into offside defenders.

"It was a tremendous, spirited win ... they're good signs for us for next year," said coach Brian Smith after ending a seven-match losing streak.

Indeed, but it has not always seemed that way.

Smith endured ongoing headlines claiming he'd torn the club apart with a player cleanout.

However the club's biggest turmoil came from retired champion Andrew Johns and his frank illicit drug use admission on national television on Thursday night.

But it was Johns' former teammates who were savouring the natural high one can only get from winning against the odds.

Smith staunchly defended the club after the game, claiming few other clubs would have the spirit to overcome the pressure like the Knights.

"Whatever happened this week, last week or whatever, the boys were able to go out under pressure tonight and at the back end of the game to score all those points and dig themselves out a win was a fantastic thing," he said.

"It's been a tough slog the back third of the season.

"The season that we have endured is one that very few other clubs would have been able to survive, but we have."

Newcastle can still collect this year's wooden spoon if Penrith defeat New Zealand Warriors on Saturday night, but that matters little to the players right now.

"We've got a dozen or so blokes leaving and we've made a million headlines this year and the blokes have had to read about it, but it's galvanised us a little bit," said skipper Danny Buderus.

Tigers coach Tim Sheens blamed inexperience for the loss, while fullback Brett Hodgson said they lacked desperation.

The Tigers had victory in the bag, but Benji Marshall's two tries and a 24-12 lead in the final 10 minutes not enough to secure the win.

Marshall failed an attempted field goal from just over 10m out in the 71st minute, and from their Newcastle dominated.

Gidley crossed in the 73rd minute before winger Cooper Vuna took the game by the scruff of the neck with a superb chip and chase to score his second try five minutes from fulltime.

"We're just shattered with what's happened," said Hodgson.

"Twelve points up with eight minutes to go, the desperation for us to make the finals was not as much as those guys (Newcastle) not to win the wooden spoon."

The Tigers have some doubt as to whether there had been two Newcastle defenders in Paterson's tackle, but Sheens said there was no point whingeing - his side blew their own finals prospects.

"There's not much else whingeing or anything else. We've come up short and that's been our season - up and down," said Sheens.

"Two weeks ago there was talk of the top four, now we've missed the top eight.

"People are getting value for money, but the rest of us are losing our sanity."

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