The Newcastle Knights have only just hung on for a 20-18 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs following an epic late comeback from Souths.
The Knights led 20-0 on the back of some Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce brilliance but opened the door late when Souths crossed for the first time late in the game.
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The Knights outworked the Rabbitohs for most of the game, with Souths looking unlikely to score until the 66th minute through bench player Mark Nicholls who burrowed over from close range.
Another try from Damien Cook who breezed past off-side players to score next to the post all of a sudden made it a game two minutes later.
It looked like it was three tries in six minutes when Tom Burgess spun his way over the line but a bobble as he got the ball to the line denied him and gave the Knights some relief from a desperate late burst – for another two minutes.
Going wide, Souths winger Jaxson Paulo only just skirted the sideline before kicking back on the inside with Cook winning the race for the ball.
It all of a sudden made it 20-18.
South were relentless and continued to attack the line with Ponga coming to the rescue on attacking kicks as the clock wound down.
With time on their side, Newcastle kicked the ball out with 15 seconds left and 37m out for the Rabbitohs to have one final shot.
But Souths didn’t get into position on the mark, with referee Grant Atkins allowing the time to run down and calling full-time.
The referee points to the mark, well behind the Rabbitohs.Source:FOX SPORTS
“The ball was marked by the touch judge, you’re not packing the scrum up there,” he said. “The ball went out there, you can’t pack it up there.”
Souths’ Adam Reynolds was furious and said “you’re not even on the mark”.
The boos rang out from around the stadium with Fox League commentator Brenton Speed saying “and that is the end of the ball game, controversy at the end of it all”.
Corey Parker said: “it’s heartbreaking isn’t it. The referee is right, he pointed to the mark and they were off the mark, there were only seconds remaining.”
Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce combined to orchestrate a dominant 20-0 lead early in the second half with the Rabbitohs.
Four unanswered tries had it looking like an easy win for the Knights after a bunch of criticism.
Ponga even returned to a flash of his best, cutting through the Rabbitohs line in a flash of brilliance, breaking the line and running the final 30m to the line.
“Kalyn Ponga is back and Newcastle is running riot,” Fox Sports commentator Brenton Speed said.
“A near-perfect first half here for Adam O‘Brien.”
Kalyn Ponga and Mitch Pearce feeling the love.Source:FOX SPORTS
After a huge game from Ponga, he was cranky about the end, admitting it was “disappointing “ and that the “wheels fell off”.
He was also expecting a spray from coach Adam O’Brien.
Probably rightly so after only just holding on in what looked like a comfortable game.
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