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New recruit Anthony Milford sparked a Newcastle comeback to down the Warriors 24-16 at Moreton Daily Stadium on Saturday.

Making just his second appearance for the Knights, Milford had a hand in three of Newcastle's four tries as they overcame an early 12-0 deficit to snatch just their second win in 10 weeks.

However, it wasn't all good news for the Knights, as prop Daniel Saifiti was forced from the field with suspected medial ligament damage that has almost certainly put paid to his NSW Origin hopes and possibly the prospect of playing for Fiji in next month's Pacific Test.

Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya was placed on report and sin-binned for a high tackle late in the second half and the Knights sealed the win while he was off the field, with Enari Tuala pouncing on a Milford grubber to score his second try.

Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien revealed after the match that captain Kalyn Ponga had been ill in the lead-up to the match and barely trained with the side but was determined to play.

The Warriors were without star prop Addin Fonua-Blake due to a foot injury and fellow front-rower Matt Lodge, who quit the club last week, with new signing Dunamis Lui rushed into the side to play the Knights.   

Match snapshot

  • The Warriors jumped out of the blocks fast, with centre Adam Pompey stepping through the attempted tackles of Dane Gagai, Jake Clifford and Mitch Barnett to score in just the fifth minute.
  • Fellow Warriors centre Viliami Vailea then scored on the opposite side of the field just four minutes later after halfback Shaun Johnson combined with fullback Reece Walsh to combine space on their right edge.

Vailea extends the Warriors lead

  • Walsh missed the conversion after slipping as he approached the ball but a penalty goal put the Warriors ahead 12-0 midway through the first half.

One of the great miss kicks

  • Samoa playmaker Anthony Milford sparked the Knights into action when he ran across field and threw a long pass for Clifford, who grubbered into the Warriors in-goal for Tyson Frizell to score in the 25th minute.
  • Milford then linked with star fullback Kalyn Ponga to create a try for winger Lee Edrick and Clifford converted to draw the scores level at 12-12 in the 29th minute.

Lee levels the scores

  • The Warriors started the second half as they had the first, with a perfectly weighted Shaun Johnson cross-field kick finding an unmarked Dallin Watene-Zelezniak for the easiest of tries in the 50th minute.
  • However, the Knights hit back immediately after Walsh spilled the kick-off and Ponga put centre Enari Tuala over for a try from the ensuing scrum win to give his side the lead for the first time in the match.
  • Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya was sent to the sin bin in the 58th minute for a high shot on his Newcastle opposite Dom Young and the Knights took advantage of the one-man advantage just before the Fijian's return.

Montoya sent to the bin for a high shot

  • Again, it was Milford who created the try with a grubber into the Warriors in-goal for Tuala to touch down for the second time in the match and Clifford converted from the sideline to extend their led to eight points.

Tuala at the double

Play of the game

The Warriors regained the lead early in the second half when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored in the 50th minute but Reece Walsh fumbled the ball from the kick-off and Kalyn Ponga laid on a try from the ensuing scrum to make them pay.

Tuala quickly responds for the Knights

What they said

“We were in total control in the first half and then we obviously kicked quite poorly. We just invited them back into the contest. In the second half I think we would all agree that were on top and we got to the front and we didn’t catch the kick off. It’s like we tried to make it as hard as we can Some of the boys are working their socks off and some of them are playing their best footy and then we just hand it over,": Warriors coach Nathan Brown. 

Warriors: Round 12

“It is sort of a new season starting for us now. I know a few boys will go and have a job to do for their state but the back end of the year is a bit of a re-set for us. The more we can get this spine playing consistently every week ... there is a chance for this team. We are two out of the eight now so we can get there. We come back in a fortnight’s time against a pretty handy outfit in the Panthers, but I still believe this team will do something. We can fight our way into finals, we have done it before and I believe we can do it again,": Knights coach Adam O'Brien.

Knights: Round 12

What's next

The Warriors travel to Sydney to take on the Sea Eagles at 4 Pines Park next Saturday night, while the Knights have a bye ahead of the opening State of Origin on June 8.

Warriors forward Josh Curran (knee) may be available for the trip to Manly but lock Jazz Tevaga and second-rower Jack Murchie will need to pass HIA protocols to be cleared to play after suffering head knocks against Newcastle.

Knights prop Daniel Saifiti failed to finish the match after suffering a knee injury but Hymel Hunt (cheekbone_ and Bailey Hodgson (elbow) may be available after the bye. 


Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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