The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Both sides opened Friday night's clash in quite promising fashion and it looked as if the Knights would claim first points when Mitchell Barnett grounded a Trent Hodkinson grubber. The try was sent to the Bunker, where, unfortunately for the Novocastrians, it was proved that the ball had been touched by the elbow of the Newcastle lock. The Knights, however, continued to trouble the Roosters with errors at critical periods in the first half cruelling their chances of building momentum.
Joseph Manu showed the Knights how it was done a couple of moments later when he stunned the Hunter crowd as he danced through the Newcastle defence to score the opening points in the 17th minute. It would take another ten minutes for more points to come and, yet again, the Roosters would teach the Knights a thing or two about how to execute a set play to perfection when a Mitchell Pearce pass saw Michael Gordon slice through the Newcastle line with ease to extend his side's lead to 12.
Newcastle did have a couple of sets on the Roosters' line in the final two minutes yet they were unable to take advantage, with Luke Yates dropping the ball after a poor Brock Lamb pass put the Newcastle Prop under pressure. As a result, the Knights would head into the sheds trailing 12-0 and would be desperate to score first in the second half with the win slowly slipping away, largely due to poor execution.
The Knights did exactly that to open the first half when Dane Gagai got on the outside of Luke Keary to send Ken Sio over in the corner and suddenly the deficit was reduced to six. A couple of errors gifted the Knights some early field possession with Gagai going close down the short side only to be pulled up short by a great legs tackle by Boyd Cordner.
Again a kick out on the full by Keary would give the Knights another chance to equalise yet once again, execution was lacking with Gagai this time coming up with the error as the ball was spread wide. After getting themselves back into the game, some sloppy defence would eventually let the Knights down as Keary sliced through the line to run 30 metres and score. Newcastle's defence continued to look fragile and Pearce took full advantage in the 73rd minute when he stepped inside to score under the posts and put the game beyond doubt.
Next week the Roosters meet the Dragons in the ANZAC Day classic on Tuesday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. Meanwhile, the Knights travel to Townsville to take on the Cowboys on Saturday afternoon.
Newcastle Knights 6 - Sydney Roosters 24
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 0 Sydney Roosters 12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Mitchell Pearce
2 points - Boyd Cordner
1 points - Ken Sio
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (6)
Tries: Ken Sio
Conversions: Trent Hodkinson (1/1)
SYDNEY ROOSTERS (24)
Tries: Joseph Manu, Michael Gordon, Luke Keary, Mitchell Pearce
Conversions: Michael Gordon (4/4)