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Mata'utia brothers sink Warriors

Four tries scored between Newcastle wingers and brothers Sione and Chanel Mata'utia has seen the Knights secure a 28-22 win over the New Zealand Warriors at Hunter Stadium.

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With Sione scoring the first three tries of his career and his older brother Chanel scoring another, the siblings helped Newcastle secure back-to-back wins.

While his goal-kicking efforts were the difference last weekend, captain Kurt Gidley could be forgiven for only kicking at just over 50 per cent despite the Warriors making a spirited comeback throughout the course of the game.

The script wasn't written to end in defeat for Warriors' Shaun Johnson, making his return after three weeks on the sideline with a groin injury and playing a massive part in his side's comeback after the Knights had scored three tries to nil by the 26th minute.

Newcastle scored their first of those after a tough opening 11 minute exchange when a returning Jarrod Mullen put in an inch-perfect short chip across field for Sione Mata'utia, a late inclusion for Akuila Uate in the team, to score his maiden try in the NRL.

Joey Leilua extended the Knights lead when he went over in the 20th minute. With Tyrone Roberts and Gidley feeding the ball to the centre out wide, Leilua was able to shrug off Kiwi international Ben Henry and fool winger David Fusitu'a to extend Newcastle's advantage to eight.

A scrum set 10 metres from their own try-line proved an unlikely source of a scoring play for the Knights through a short side scrum play, which paid dividends for Sione Mata'utia, the 18-year-old racing 85 metres down field to make it a double in the 26th minute and extend Newcastle's lead to 14. 

It didn't come without its controversy however, as Warriors' halfback Johnson was impeded by the referee at the edge of the scrum in defence which allowed Joey Leilua to pass off to his winger with no-one in front of him.

A push and shove between Manu Vatuvei and Beau Scott almost boiled over with the big men shaping up to go toe-to-toe. With the men from across the ditch in good field position, Scott was able to add a few more bone-rattling tackles to his resume but the Warriors finally caught a break in the 34th minute thanks to an amazing Fusitu'a try.

With Joey Leilua spilling a Johnson bomb, the Warriors winger received the ball out wide and leaped to score a spectacular try with his whole body, bar the football carrying hand, suspended over the sideline in mid-air.

The Warriors went back-to-back in the 38th minute when Manu Vatuvei scored in the opposite corner. Scrutinised by the video referee for a supposed error from Ngani Laumape after a Ben Matulino offload, the ball seemingly passed the centre onto the turf before being picked up by Vatuvei to make it 14-10 by halftime.

The Warriors started off the second half under the best possible way when Nathan Friend caught Scott and Dane Gagai napping in defence in the 42nd minute to even up the scoreboard. 

Newcastle regained the lead in the 53rd minute when Sione Mata'utia crossed for his third try of the afternoon. With very little space to move, all looked lost when Leilua offloaded to the young winger but under immense pressure from the opposition defence Mata'utia was able to touch down before being bundled over the sideline. Despite originally being sent upstairs looking like an almost certain no-try, replays showed Mata'utia managed to somehow ground the ball on the tryline centimetres inside touch.

Captain Kurt Gidley pushed the Knights' lead to eight thanks to a penalty conversation with 16 minutes remaining in the half. Up 22-14, it was then Chanel Mata'utia's time to score. With his younger brother stealing the show, Chanel Mata'utia was able to peg one back from his younger sibling in the 66th minute and push his team's lead out to 12.

The Warriors attempted to make amends when Fusitu'a secured his second try of the match in the 69th minute when Johnson and Sam Tomkins combined to put the winger away in the corner though Gidley was able to kick another penalty goal in 74th minute after Feleti Mateo laid out Newcastle halfback Roberts off the ball to make it 28-18.

The Warriors failed to let up and the match became an interesting spectacle with Sione Lousi ending up with the ball after a short kick-off. By the end of the set, Vatuvei was able to score his second try of the afternoon with five minutes remaining in the game. On an afternoon for wingers, Vatuvei showed he wasn't to be outdone by the younger brigade, producing his own spectacular grounding just inside the touch-in-goal line to reduce the deficit to a converted try.

With the Warriors needing to make massive inroads downfield in the final three minutes, Newcastle centre Leilua was able to release the pressure valve slightly when he intercepted a Johnson pass seemingly bound for Fusitu'a's third try of the afternoon. With Tomkins dropping the ball in his own half the very next set, Newcastle were able to see out the final moments of the game coming out six point victors. 

Warriors captain Simon Mannering was placed on report for an unfortunate effort on Beau Scott earlier in the fixture.

Newcastle Knights 28 (Sione Mata'utia 3, Chanel Mata'utia, Joey Leilua tries; Kurt Gidley 4 Goals) defeated New Zealand Warriors 22 (David Fusitu'a 2, Manu Vatuvei 2, Nathan Friend Tries; Chad Townsend Goal) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 12,733.
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