Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles suffered a 30-16 loss to the Newcastle Knights at HE Laybutt Field, Blacktown, today in round 5 of the NSW Cup.
The Workers were strong in defence throughout the first half but were unable to finish their chances in Newcaslte’s territory, letting the close game slip away as fatigue took over. The game was within reach and at times, only two points were all that separated the two sides.
The match also saw the return from injury of experienced Manly winger Jorge Taufua.
Some strong pressure from Blacktown five-eighth Brad Keighran and winger Sione Fonua after a kick in the third minute forced the Knights into a dropout. In the set that followed, hooker Denzal Tonise crashed past a handful of defenders to score next to the posts. Keighran converted for a 6-0 lead.
The Workers weren’t really tested in the opening 10 minutes, keeping the Knights out of their half. Newcastle looked to be making their way up the field in an attempt to attack but had the ball forced out 20 metres out, handing the ball back to the home side.
Blacktown winger Sione Fonua scored in the 12th minute after catching a pass from centre Tevita Funa before tiptoeing down the sideline and pushing over the fullback to ground the ball. Keighran missed the conversion from the sideline for a 10-0 lead.
The right edge went close to producing another try three minutes later as Funa found himself in open space. As the fullback approached, he tried to pass it to Fonua but was unable to make the pass, turning the ball over.
Fullback Dylan Smith had a try denied in the 19th minute as he attempted to ground the ball. The Workers regained possession on their own 40 but were unable to utilise the momentum.
The Knights got themselves back in the match in the 24th minute after winger Harry Van Dartel scored after some quick hands from lock Jack Johns and centre Nicholas O’Meley. Five-eighth Simi Sasagi made the conversion to bring the score to 10-6.
Newcastle almost had another try two minutes later after what seemed to be a poor kick bobbled into the in-goal. Sasagi was metres away from grounding the ball, only for it to be hit dead to force a repeat set.
In the set that followed, Knights halfback McKenzie Baker made his way through some sloppy defence to score next to the posts. Sasagi made the conversion to give his side the lead, 12-10, with 29 minutes played.
Tim Simona, who was named at halfback, gained the Workers a penalty 10 metres out from Newcastle’s line after being tackled without the ball while chasing a Keighran chip. Blacktown gained another repeat set close to the line after winger Brayden Musgrove deflected an attempted passas they looked to grab one more try before the break.
Despite having most of the possession and optimal field position in the final 10 minutes, Blacktown were unable to regain the lead to trail 12-10 at half-time.
The Knights opened up the scoring in the second half as Sasagi chased halfback Liam Wilkinson’s grubber kick to the in-goal area to score under the posts, He converted his own try for an 18-10 lead after 45 minutes.
In the 50th minute, Workers second-rower Jordin Lieu ran hard off Keighran’s pass and slipped out of the defender’s reach to score for Blacktown. After setting up the try, Keighran converted for an 18-16 scoreline.
Smith made a 50 metre break downfield to get the Worker into good field position. Despite the big run, the side weren’t able to strike with Newcastle regathering metres from their line.
Making their way downfield off the back of a penalty, Knights forward Garrett Smith scored a simple try under the posts four minutes later. Sasagi converted to give the Knights a 24-16 lead.
With five minutes to play, the Knights closed out the game when forward Matt Croker pushed past the tired Blacktown defence to score. Sasagi converted for the 30-16 win.