Wayne Bennett’s Knights returned to Kogarah for a rematch with his former club the Dragons in Friday night football. The knights were outplayed in a low-scoring affair with the Dragons winning 12-4 in front of 15,291 fans.
Newcastle scored first, 12 minutes in via a former Dragons’, and Bennett employed play. The typical ‘double-decoy runner’ play saw the ball go from Buderus, to Mullen, to Boyd who put Akuila Uate over in the corner. It was almost an identical play to what the Dragons have so successfully used over the past 3 years under Bennett; the only difference being it was on the right side of the field.
The Dragons hit back eight minutes later through a Newcastle-bound, Beau Scott try.
Two minutes after their first try, the Dragons scored again through winger Jason Nightingale. Nightingale’s try was set up by Jamie Soward, when he put Brett Morris through a hole on the half way line. Morris ran 30m downfield and passed to Nightingale who finished it off to put them in front 10-4. Soward’s conversion would be the final points before halftime as the Dragons headed into the break with an 8 point lead that could have easily been more with the Red V having 2 tries disallowed in the first 40 minutes.
Darius Boyd knocked a bomb on inside his own 10m line which gave the Dragons prime field possession only 3 minutes into the 2nd half. The Dragons received back to back sets when Kade Snowden was ruled to have knocked the ball on. The Dragons also then dropped the ball when a strong Mullen tackle pushed the ball out of Creagh’s hands.
The next ten minutes would see two knock-on’s from either side. The increased turnovers resulted in a loosely-disciplined display by both teams. The Dragons also opted to kick dead on a number of occasions, rather than have the Knight’s back three return the ball on the run.
A penalty to the Knights in the 50th minutes gave them field possession which resulted in a goal line drop-out and repeat set.
The Knights got another penalty when a Mullen kick was caught by an offside Dragons player. In that set of six, Jamie Soward attempted an intercept, which he knocked on and kicked into the arms of Matt Hilder. The referee allowed play to continue and the Knights ran the ball across field for Zeb Taia to cross, only for the try to be disallowed due to a Snowden obstruction.
Errors and penalties resulted in a try line-to-try line game for most of the second half. However neither team was able to put points on the board.
The Dragons received 3 penalties inside their own 20m late in the game allowing them to bring the ball off their only line with ease.
It was an even game in the end with the Knights 23 extra missed tackles than the Dragons possibly the difference.
The low-scoring game won’t assist Ricky Stuart in selecting a five-eighth for NSW, with neither Mullen nor Soward putting in outstanding performances. Man of the Match Dan Hunt said the Dragons low score “wasn’t a concern”, and believed the points will come “as we’re doing the little things right and winning the arm-wrestle”.
Written from the lounge, Max.