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Knights continue rise up the ladder with rout of Raiders

The Knights have jumped to ninth place on the Telstra Premiership ladder after powering past the Raiders 28-6 for their fourth-straight win on Saturday.

Author: 

Corey Rosser, NRL Reporter

Newcastle left the Raiders in a state of shock with a commanding first-half performance which saw them run up 20 unanswered points, and while the scoring rate dropped off in the second 40 minutes, Newcastle's intensity didn't and the Raiders were never really in the contest. 

Even with the result secured, the Knights came up with some huge goal-line efforts in the final five minutes to deny Canberra consolation tries. 

It leaves Adam O'Brien's side sitting just one point back from the top eight, pending the result of the Titans v Cowboys match later in Round 22, while Canberra – who missed 44 tackles and completed at just 61 percent – risk finishing the weekend as low as seventh due to their negative points differential. 

Kalyn Ponga made a commanding start to the game with a long-range break just two minutes in and never looked back. 

Despite spending time off the field for a HIA, the superstar No.1 racked up over 200 metres in running, to go with a try on seven minutes and a subsequent try assist.

After Ponga dotted down following a Lachlan Fitzgibbon break, the Raiders were made to pay for a sloppy error coming out of yardage, with Greg Marzhew crossing in the corner and Ponga nailing the sideline conversion, which after an earlier penalty goal gave the visitors a 14-0 lead. 

Dom Young stretched the lead further with his 20th try of the season before the break, and just two minutes into the second stanza Tyson Gamble streaked away for another.

Minutes after scrambling to stop a Hudson Young try with a desperate chase, Newcastle finally broke and let Jordan Rapana get the better of them on the edge. 

But the Raiders shot themselves in the foot again soon after, and following an unsuccessful challenge of the on-field decision of a strip in front of their own posts, they fell behind by another two when Ponga took the easy points on offer. 

The Raiders dominated time spent in opposition territory in the final quarter, but either coughed up cheap errors or simply had no answer for a determined Newcastle line. 

Match Snapshot 

  • Newcastle are unbeaten in their last four games and have outscored their opponents 154 to 42 in that period. 
  • Sebastian Kris was put on report for a dangerous tackle following a mid-air hit on Kalyn Ponga in the 55th minute. 
  • Ponga sent a scare through the Knights after leaving the field for a HIA with 20 minutes to go, but after passing his assessment was able to return for the final minutes.
  • In two games against the Raiders this year Greg Marzhew has three tries. 
  • The Raiders have now conceded 128 points in their past four games at GIO Stadium.
  • With five games left in the regular season, Dominic Young now sits just one shy of equaling the Knights’ record for most tries in a season, which stands at 21.

Play of the Game
It didn't lead to a try, but this brilliant kick return from Kalyn Ponga made for beautiful viewing and set the tone for what was a huge day for the Newcastle No.1. Minutes later he backed up down the same channel to score his side's opening try and across the 80 minutes he hardly put a foot wrong. 

What They Said
"I really enjoyed watching our goal line defence today. We defended for long periods on them and we looked really comfortable. I feel like we’ve been that way for some time now and there’s a bit of a rhythm at the moment to us. He (Kalyn Ponga) is doing a really good job at identifying the stuff that we look at during the week and Jackson Hastings does a good job of that too. They identify the style that we want to play with and they are executing it at training, which gives them confidence to go chase it early in games." – Knights coach Adam O'Brien

"It was a very bad day. We'll talk about this tomorrow, go through and leave it there. That wasn't us. We've had a big three months to get us to where we are, so we just need to put that behind us as quick as we possibly can so we can move on. Melbourne showed us (how to turn it around)." – Raiders coach Ricky Stuart

What's Next 
The Knights head to Perth to take on the Dolphins in Round 22 and pending other results could have the opportunity to join the top eight with a victory. The Raiders have the advantage of another home game and a full week spent in Canberra, ahead of hosting the last-placed Wests Tigers. 

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