The South Sydney Rabbitohs NYC side fell to the table-topping Newcastle Knights 32-18 at Redfern Oval today (Saturday).
Coming off their biggest loss of the season, Newcastle were looking to establish ascendancy early. A penalty within the first minute gifted them a repeat set of six tackles and their first scoring opportunity.
Taking full advantage by quickly sweeping the ball through their backline Newcastle’s Bradie Smith opened the Knight’s try scoring account by crashing over in the corner. While halfback Brock Lamb missed the sideline conversion, Newcastle looked strong with a four-point lead within two minutes.
Although conceding an early try, the following ten minutes was all South Sydney. Souths forwards were proving up to the challenge in the early minutes, matching every Knights run with tenacious defence.
The men in red and green were looking dangerous with the ball in hand also, with halfback Brad Wall putting up bombs with pin-point accuracy. Knights’ fullback Jacob Gagai maintained his composure under the high ball, consistently defusing every Souths attack.
Losing possession and then following up with a quick penalty did Newcastle no favours. Souths quickly capitalised with a perfect short ball sending Souths Cheyne Whitlaw under the posts. With Wallace Tangiiti converting, Souths established a 6-4 lead within ten minutes.
Souths continued their push for a second try. The breakthrough came at 23 minutes when Souths second row Jack Gosiewski finished off a sweeping backline movement to score in the corner. Wallace Tangiiti converted from out wide to push Souths lead to 12-4.
Six minutes later Newcastle’s Lachlan Fitzgibbon provided some tidy footwork from 25 metres out to cross for Newcastle’s second try and work his team back into the contest. When Brock Lamb converted, Souths’ early lead had been trimmed to two points after 29 minutes of play.
In the following set of six Newcastle spread the ball wide to winger Bradon Robson who streaked along the sideline and beat two Souths defenders to score the Knight’s second try in as many minutes. With another conversion from Brock Lamb, Newcastle reclaimed the lead at 16-12 as the first half came to an end.
Souths hopes were buoyed as play resumed when Newcastle dropped the ball off the kick-off. However Newcastle’s goal line defence proved too strong and Souths failed to capitalise.
Newcastle forwards Tuiala Togiatasi and Harry Pondekas were proving to be a handful for Souths defence. Pondekas continued his hard running by breaking a Souths tackle then offloading to centre Chance Peni who sprinted 40 metres for another Knights try. Brock Lamb pushed the conversion wide, leaving Newcastle with a 20-12 lead after 48 minutes.
Repeating their efforts from earlier in the match Newcastle wasted no time scoring another try within two minutes. An almost identical blinding run from Bradon Robson down the Knight’s left edge was finished off with a perfect pass to Bradie Smith who touched down near the posts for his second. Brock Lamb converted to push the Knights lead to 26-12.
While Souths remained in the contest, Newcastle had all the momentum and possession and ten minutes later, Newcastle’s Pride Robati finished off a break by scoring under the posts. Lamb converted and the Knights lead 32-12 with twenty minutes to go.
Souths were given hope when Cheyne Whitlaw crossed for his second and Tangiiti converted from near the sideline, closing the gap to 32-18. However the final minutes of the contest yielded no further points from either team, and the Knights held on for a 14-point victory away from home.
Knights 32 (Bradie Smith 2, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Bradon Robson, Chance Peni, Pride Robati tries; Brock Lamb 4 goals)
Rabbitohs 18 (Cheyne Whitlaw 2, Jack Gosiewski tries; Wallace Tangiiti 3 goals)