Wests Tigers trump Uate hat-trick

On a Sunday where the Newcastle Knights celebrated miners' contribution to the Hunter and winger Akuila Uate became the all-time leading try scorer for the club, they failed to secure the two points in a heartbreaking 23-20 loss to the Wests Tigers.

With Darius Boyd also celebrating his 200th game the Knights were very much in control for the majority of the clash, though struggled when it counted - especially with their captain Kurt Gidley being sin-binned with 15 minutes left in the game.

With the Knights going down for their sixth straight loss, it has become a matter of desperate calculations if they are to play September football.

Reneging on his contract with the Canberra Raiders during the week, James Tedesco returned from a knee injury and put in a brilliant effort for the Tigers.

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Knights back-rower Beau Scott was also handed a chance to prove his worth in the backline, with NSW looking to fill their vacant right centre position, after Joey Leilua failed to come out of the sheds at half-time after suffering a throat injury.

The beginning of the game was all about Tigers ace Tedesco in the opening five minutes. With the game starting in spectacular fashion after a trademark Pat Richards kick-off landed straight in the fullback's arms, it only took the 21-year-old another four minutes to secure the first try of the afternoon as he weaved his way through several defenders to touch down.

The Knights had their first real opportunity midway through the first half, as Boyd managed to throw a brilliant cut-out pass to a racing Uate, for the Fijian flyer to slither his way over in the corner for his 50th try at Hunter Stadium and equal the club record for most tries (91).

With the Knights threatening again in the 26th minute, a bomb from Newcastle five-eighth Jarrod Mullen saw Tigers teammates Tedesco and Braith Anasta come together in an attempt to catch the pinpoint kick.

With Anasta leaping to take the ball on the full, Tedesco awkwardly clattered into the veteran's legs, which saw the five-eighth land on his head and drop the ball in the process. Newcastle halfback Tyrone Roberts placed a hand on the ball by chance in what was one of the unlikeliest tries you'd ever see.

A fiery final 15 minutes followed before half-time, with props Martin Taupau & Kade Snowden placed on report for high tackles. Tigers utility Curtis Sironen's return to the NRL was also soured within five minutes after he was taken off with a neck injury.

With a feeling of animosity in the air the Knights went into the sheds up 10-8.

The Tigers began the second half with three consecutive sets as they moved their way up field. With the Knights' short side depleted, Tigers halfback Luke Brooks shot out diagonally towards the corner, drawing in James McManus in defence, before sending Pat Richards in for his eighth try of the year.

Following a long, winding and brilliant run that began in the hands of Boyd and ended with Dane Gagai, the Knights sent it flying across the other side of the paddock in the 52nd minute for Uate to cross again for his 92nd try for the Knights, an outright club record.

With 15 minutes left in the game, a Brooks 40/20 sent the Knights into a spiral, with Gidley colliding with his opposite captain Robbie Farah as the play looked set to resume to earn 10 minutes in the bin. Pat Richards kicked the penalty goal to equal the playing field at 16-all.

Richards went on to kick a miraculous field goal in the 67th minute to regather the advantage for his team, at the end of a haphazard last-tackle play.

With the Knights a man short, the holes started to appear everywhere in the Newcastle defence and it cost them again in the 69th minute. Centre Chris Lawrence finished off a slick backline movement for the Tigers to go seven points up, with Tedesco throwing a beautifully-timed final pass.

With three minutes left in the game, Uate would finish a long-range effort to secure his hat=trick, bringing it back to a three-point game as the Knights turned down the chance at taking the conversation.

With 32 seconds left in the game, the Knights packed down a scrum 10 metres from their own line and failed to chance their hand adequately to find a winning try, ultimately going down by three points.

Wests Tigers 23 (Lawrence, Tedesco, Richards tries; Richards 5 goals; Richards field goal) defeated Newcastle Knights 20 (Uate 3, Roberts tries; Roberts 2 goals) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 22,173.