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Newcastle too strong for Canberra

Akuila Uate

Knights notched their third consecutive home win, defeating the Canberra Raiders 28-12 at Hunter Stadium on Easter Sunday.
Newcastle too strong for Canberra
by AAP

Knights notched their third consecutive home win, defeating the Canberra Raiders 28-12 at Hunter Stadium on Easter Sunday.

The Knights had won their opening two matches at home so far this season, but it was the Raiders who started the match in the ascendency when Josh McCrone found touch with a 40/20 kick early in the tackle count.

However, the visitors were unable to capitalise on the good field position, turning the ball over near the Knights' line on the ensuing set.

The Knights began to control possession with a number of repeats sets close to the Raiders' line and continually looked to target the Raiders' left flank with Alex McKinnon and Akuila Uate getting plenty of ball.

The tactic paid dividends in the 15th minute when Jarrod Mullen's cross-field banana kick dipped over the outstretched hands of Raiders winger Jack Wighton and straight into the midriff of Uate.

The Fijian flyer made life easier for kicker Kurt Gidley by running around and planting the ball down alongside the uprights. The Knights' skipper duly obliged by adding the extras to give Newcastle a 6-0 lead.

The Raiders looked to have got a try back when Blake Ferguson crossed out wide, but the four-pointer was disallowed for obstruction by Josh Papali in the lead-up.

The Knights increased their lead in the 22nd minute when a well-worked second man play saw Kade Snowden get a ball out the back to Tyrone Roberts, who in turn found Anthony Quinn in space on the left wing with a bullet-like cut-out pass.

The centre showed good acceleration to win the race to the try-line and ground the ball just inside the corner post. Gidley's conversion attempt hit the upright and the Knights maintained at 10-0 lead.

The Raiders notched their first points of the contest in the 30th minute when Joel Thompson was able to ground Sam Williams' grubber kick with his fingertips just before it crossed the dead ball line. Jarrod Croker successfully converted the try to make it 10-6.

Josh Papali got the Raiders back on level terms five minutes before the half-time interval when he capitalised on a Newcastle turnover by slicing through the Knights defence and forcing his way over the line. Croker was successful with his conversion attempt to give Raiders a 12-10 lead at the break.

The Knights started the second half the stronger of the two teams and went close to scoring when McKinnon was held up over the line in the 50th minute.

On the following play, the ball found its way to Tyrone Roberts who sucked in Papali with a massive dummy before stepping through the Raiders' defensive line and scoring untouched. The 21-year-old stepped up to convert his own try and give the Knights a 16-12 lead.

The home side continued to dominate much of the possession and territory on the back of their forward pack's hard running and Jarrod Mullen's precise kicking game.

Newcastle increased their lead in the 64th minute when Adam Cuthbertson made something out of nothing by out muscling three Raiders defenders and bulldozing his way over the try-line. Roberts split with uprights with his conversion attempt to increase the Knights' lead to 22-12.

Thompson went close to reducing the margin for the Raiders when he tried to barge his way over out wide, only to lose control of the ball at the crucial moment.

The Knights played smart and patient rugby league over the closing 15 minutes before Cuthbertson put the icing on the cake with three minutes remaining when he broke through some lacklustre Raiders' defence to score his second try of the match underneath the posts. Roberts added the extras to complete a 28-12 win for the Knights.

Newcastle Knights 28 (T: Uate, Quinn, Roberts, Cuthbertson 2. G: Gidley 1/2, Roberts 3/3) defeated Canberra Raiders 12 (T: Thompson, Papali. G: Croker 2/2)
Crowd 18,689 at Hunter Stadium.

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