New-look Knights too strong for Canberra - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

New-look Knights too strong for Canberra

By David Beniuk 15/03/2008 10:19:04 PM Comments (0)

Remodelled Newcastle overcame the early loss of Test forward Steve Simpson to post a confidence-boosting 30-14 NRL win over Canberra at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Saturday night.

The Knights also survived some second half magic from new league millionaire Todd Carney in the five tries-to-three victory, despite fielding five debutants following coach Brian Smith's clean-out last year.

The new-look Knights showed plenty of talent and desire, if not cohesion, as only poor execution gave the error-prone Raiders a sniff.

The home side scored tries through Wes Naiqama, Cooper Vuna, Danny Buderus, Danny Wicks and Kurt Gidley while Gidley booted five goals.

For the Raiders, Adrian Purtell bagged a double, Lincoln Withers scored a try and Carney kicked a solitary goal.

Simpson lasted just four minutes before walking slowly from the field and heading straight to the sheds with a suspected medial ligament tear.

Leading 10-4 at halftime, the Knights looked to have sealed victory in the 61st minute when Buderus capitalised on Alan Tongue fumbling a kick in-goal and dived on the ball, the conversion making it 18-4.

But two pieces of Carney magic just days after the half signed a reported $1.6 million deal to stay in Canberra got the visitors back into it.

In the space of six minutes, Carney sent winger Purtell over in the corner twice with superb cut-out balls to narrow the gap to 18-14 and silence the crowd of 17,233.

But that was all the Raiders could muster and more Canberra errors gave the home side field position for Wicks to capitalise on a Jarrod Mullen grubber hitting the post in the 74th minute, sealing the win.

Gidley's late four-pointer, also from a Mullen grubber, put the icing on the cake.

The Raiders had been first on the board when Withers dived over from dummy-half in the 10th minute for his side to lead 4-0.

Naiqama was awarded a try by video referee Paul Simpkins in the 33rd minute when he stretched for the line after a deft flick pass from his former Dragons teammate Chris Houston.

Vuna crossed six minutes later after latching onto a pass from Adam MacDougall which appeared to float forward.

Following Friday night's shoulder charge which seriously injured South Sydney's Craig Wing, Newcastle fullback Gidley was penalised in the 26th minute for a sliding collision with Canberra's Phil Graham when the Raiders centre was lying on the ground after fielding a kick.

Smith, considered one of the NRL's most under-pressure coaches in 2008 after his shake-up of the local talent at Newcastle, was doing his best Wayne Bennett impersonation, offering only minimal answers to reporters' questions at the post-match media conference.

"Yeah, it was good, it was exactly what we were looking for," he said without expanding.

But he did enthuse about his side's second half kicking game.

"I thought we gutsed it out early on and probably didn't have enough good kick finishes in the first half,' he said.

"But in the second half (there was) judicious kicking, well thought out, well executed. I thought our kick-chase at stages tonight was as good as anything I can ever remember." Henry lamented his side error count at crucial stages.

"I think we made something like seven errors in our own 20 metres and three or four of them resulted in tries so you can't win a game of footy," he said.

"When we kicked back into the game with a couple of tries I thought we were a chance there inside that last 15 minutes ... but again we came up with a couple of fundamental errors and it gifted them some points." As well as Simpson's likely grade two tear, Knights forward Cory Paterson suffered a knee knock and Vuna a dislocated finger.

Raiders fullback William Zillman suffered concussion and Queensland State of Origin forward Neville Costigan re-injured his thigh.

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