Rugby League

Saifiti sent off as Knights beat Wests Tigers

March 12, 2023 8:47 pm

Newcastle overcame the loss of three stars and the sending off of Jacob Saifiti to hold on and beat the Wests Tigers 14-12 at Leichhardt Oval.

The Knights lost Kalyn Ponga and hooker Jayden Brailey in the first 15 minutes before Dom Young (professional foul) and Saifiti (high tackle) spent time off the field but a gritty defensive display against a lacklustre Wests Tigers outfit was enough to secure their first win.

Wests Tigers had every opportunity to run away with the result in Round 2 but errors proved too costly for the home side in front of a crowd left frustrated for the second consecutive week.

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After losing their captain in the second minute of the match, the Knights rallied to open the scoring with a right-side shift which put Young across the line for his first try of the season.

Newcastle were dealt another blow when hooker Brailey was taken from the field for a HIA but their bench men continued to deliver with Tyson Gamble sending a well-timed pass to Lachie Fitzgibbon who crashed and crawled his waythe line to score in his milestone match.

After missing several opportunities to reduce the visitors’ early lead, the Wests Tigers’ bounced back when Asu Kepaoa picked up a loose ball to cross the stripe uncontested, but it came at a cost with centre Tommy Talau copping a high hit from former teammate Jackson Hastings.

Adam Doueihi’s conversion was successful but the Knights took a 10-6 lead to the sheds at half-time.

The after went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second term with lock Jack Johns and Tyson Frizell both suffering game-ending ankle injuries but repeated errors from Tim Sheens’ side kept the Knights in the match.

Just two minutes after Fitzgibbon was denied another four points, the Knights capitalised on an Isaiah Papali’i error and with some slick ball movement found Young on the wing. Hastings missed the conversion and the score was 14-6 with 20 minutes to play.

The dismissal of Saifiti, who collected Jake Simpkin high with 15 minutes to play left the Knights with all to do defensively.

Costly errors from the Wests Tigers though eased any pressure with only a Stefano Utoikamanu try to note but it was all too late.