Ponga Prances Over the Broncos

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It was the third game of Super Saturday, with the Newcastle Knights hosting the Brisbane Broncos in Newcastle. Newcastle were looking to make amends for a poor performance against the Dragons in Wollongong, while the Broncos wanted to overturn their own fortunes after a shock loss to the Titans at home.

Newcastle would come in as Danny Levi replaced Jacob Saifiti on the bench in a late change for Newcastle. Nathan Ross replaced the injured Tautau Moga (ACL) in the centres. For Brisbane, Tevita Pangai Jnr and Jaydn Su'A started with Korbin Sims moving back to the bench and Alex Glenn dropping out of the side. Corey Oates returned on the wing. 

The game would have plenty of feeling in it early, with a very vocal Newcastle crowd voicing their displeasure with Matthew Lodge every time he touched the ball. Both sides would shares sets early on, with Newcastle having the better of the territory. Brisbane would have the first main chance, with James Roberts flying outside Ken Sio and linking up with Kodi Nikorima, only for Kalyn Ponga to show his speed and take down the Broncos half. 

Brisbane were unable to capitalize on good field position, and Newcastle took advantage with some lovely footwork from Ponga creating a gap for Lachlan Fitzgibbon to stroll through and score. Ponga would convert to make it 6-0. It was thought that we would go into half time that way, but Mitchell Pearce would sink a field goal to walk into the sheds with a 7-0 lead.

Newcastle would come out flying in the second half, with Chris Heighington nearly going over in the first few minutes. Darius Boyd let a bomb bounce, with Nathan Ross offloading to Brock Lamb and then to Heighington. It took a huge tackle from both Corey Oates and Jamayne Isaako for the Knights to be held short. 

Newcastle's defense was impeccable for the first 55 minutes, with the Broncos having to kick from their own 10m line. That would lead to the second Newcastle try, as Daniel Safiti would run straight through the Broncos defense off a short ball from Mitchell Pearce. Kalyn Ponga would convert it to make it 13-0 with just over a quarter of the game to go. 

An error from Shaun Kenny-Dowall would give Brisbane some attacking possession, and a few sets later we would see the first Brisbane try through Corey Oates in the left hand corner. Jamayne Isaako would hit the uprights to keep it at 13-4. 

Kalyn Ponga would work his magic to have the kick-off bounce into touch so the Knights would get another opportunity at the Broncos line. A high shot from Gillett would give Ponga another shot at a penalty goal, in which he converted to make it 15-4.

It would be attacking set after attacking set for both teams as Newcastle tried to seal the win, but a good counter-attacking set from Brisbane saw Anthony Milford stretch over the line to give the Broncos a sniff with 6 minutes left. Isaako would convert it to make it 15-10. 

A couple of interesting referee calls would hinder the Broncos both in attack and defense, giving Newcastle one last chance to put the game to bed. They didn't, leaving the Broncos 20 seconds to go the length of the field. A hail mary from Brisbane would fall flat, as Newcastle sealed their second home win of the year in gritty style.

Newcastle move to a 3-2 record, as well as inside the top 8 yet again. They head down to Melbourne to take on the Storm, while the 2-3 Broncos will head to New Zealand to face a red-hot NZ Warriors.



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