Knights snap five-game losing streak
The Newcastle Knights have won their first game in six weeks after downing the Wests Tigers 22-12 as NRL debutant Chad Redman scored in the final three minutes to seal the victory.
Snapping a five-game losing run, the Knights were under immense pressure with six minutes remaining after fullback Dane Gagai dropped the ball within his own 20 metre zone.
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Up 16-12 at the time, a Knights scrum win against the feed inspired the home team to score three sets later – with Tigers penalties helping Newcastle's cause – as replacement hooker Redman, who only found out of his debut during the captain's run, buried his way over to confirm the 10-point win.
Following the match, Newcastle coach Rick Stone said the Round 10 fixture was "just about getting the two points".
"We talked about the average fan coming in, paying his $200 to be a season ticket holder and what he would expect from [the game]," Stone said.
"He would've expected vitality and some real desperation out of the boys so hopefully that's what we gave."
Knights skipper Kurt Gidley added: "I was driving home from our last loss against Manly and realised we had lost five-in-a-row, you sit back and it shocks you a little bit when you have lost that many after starting so positively.
"We spoke about this week being more desperate and proactive in defence and I think we delivered on both those things."
The Knights were in control for much of the game and errors from Tigers duo Mitchell Moses and Kevin Naiqama were the impetus behind their first try of the afternoon in the ninth minute when James McManus benefited from a nicely worked backline shift from Gagai.
The Tigers hit back in the 17th minute when Dene Halatau crossed for his second try in two weeks after halfback Luke Brooks found space between Knights defenders Jeremy Smith and Tyler Randell before drawing in Gagai to send his back-rower in under the posts.
It didn't take long for the Knights to hit back though when David Fa'alogo scored in the 21st minute, in his 50th game for the club. With the prop picking up the scraps from a Pat Richards mistake, the video referees adjudicated the winger carried it loosely rather than Knights lock Smith knocking it out himself.
The Tigers levelled up for a second time in the game when Luke Brooks scored in the 50th minute off some solid soccer-style kicking from James Tedesco. Drawing inspiration from the A-League grand final, Tedesco put in three kicks within a five metre space for Brooks to come through and plant the ball down.
Not to be outdone, Newcastle regained a slender four-point lead once again when Joey Leilua crossed in the 55th minute after picking up the scraps of a knock back from winger McManus to score.
A long kick for touch from Tigers captain Robbie Farah put Newcastle under enormous pressure with 17 minutes remaining but a string of wrong options saw Naiqama spill the ball over the sideline.
Redman's try in the 77th minute put the result beyond doubt for the home side.
Newcastle Knights 22 (James McManus, David Fa'alogo, Joey Leilua, Chad Redman Tries; Tyrone Roberts 3 Goals) defeated Wests Tigers 12 (Dene Halatau, Luke Brooks Tries; Pat Richards 2 Goals) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 15,573. Half-time: Knights 12-6.