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Newcastle have delivered a Mother's Day miracle with a 34-20 win over an awful Canberra side at McDonald Jones Stadium this afternoon.
The Novocastrians started strongly, with fan favourite Nathan Ross dotting down for the first try. It went unconverted and the Raiders hit back quickly through Nick Cotric. Croker converting put the Raiders ahead - but then strangely they opted for a penalty goal in the 12th minute when they appeared to have the Knights on the ropes.
Behind 8-4, Newcastle captain Sione Mata'utia surged over the line after a handy little play up the middle to level the scores before Brock Lamb's conversion had the home side ahead by two with twenty minutes played.
The scoring stopped there - the Knights took a 10-8 lead right through to halftime, with the main concern being Jacob Saifiti's welfare after the young forward went down in the 28th minute with what was reported as a possible pinched nerve in the neck. After a prolonged break the medical staff were able to take him from the field for further assessment via medicab.
Canberra struck first after halftime with Elliot Whitehead getting the visitors back in front at the 44th minute, but seemed to switch off after that. Joe Wardle reclaimed the lead for the hosts in the 55th, before Sione Mata'utia grabbed his second of the day on the hour mark and an eight-point lead had opened up.
Despite some injury concerns the Knights surged further ahead inside the last fifteen minutes, with Sione's brother Pete the next to register his name on the scoresheet after beating some poor Raiders' defence.
Behind by 14, the Raiders decided to play some footy but only managed one try before the end of the contest - a 75th minute effort from Cotric which had a questionable pass in the lead-up, but they still trailed 28-20 with five remaining and the home side, buoyed by a small yet noisy crowd, managed to seal the result inside the final 90 seconds with Brock Lamb scoring his first career try in the NRL.
The 34-20 loss ensures the Raiders remain outside the top eight, and will have fans worried ahead of a trip to ANZ next Saturday to face Parramatta. Newcastle have Penrith at home in the same timeslot next week - which their fans will be viewing as very winnable, and potentially help them off the foot of the table.
Newcastle Knights 34 - Canberra Raiders 20
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 10 Canberra Raiders 8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Sione Mata'utia
2 points - Peter Mata'utia
1 points - Brock Lamb
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (34)
Tries: Nathan Ross, Brock Lamb, Sione Mata'utia (2), Joe Wardle, Peter Mata'utia
Conversions: Brock Lamb (5/6)
Penalty Goals: Brock Lamb (0/1)
CANBERRA RAIDERS (20)
Tries: Nick Cotric (2), Elliot Whitehead
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (2/2), Aidan Sezer (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (1/1)