Knights shock Raiders with blistering second half
"AS Jarryd Hayne would say: 'It's been a long time.'"
Newcastle skipper Sione Mata'utia couldn't help but recite Hayne's line - from NSW's 2014 Origin series win - following his team's huge 34-20 upset victory over Canberra on Sunday afternoon.
The Knights started strong and finished even stronger as they powered home to record their first win in seven games in front of 10,997 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Inspired performances from Daniel Saifiti, Luke Yates, Brock Lamb and Sione Mata'utia ensured the home side were in the contest from the get-go, and with four tries in the final 24 minutes, the Knights blew the Green Machine away.
Saifiti put in one of the best performances of his short career, making 187 metres, 28 tackles and two offloads to get his side on the front foot, while Lamb and halves partner Jaelen Feeney both finished with two try assists each.
The Knights made the Raiders pay for an early error when winger Nathan Ross burrowed over in the corner in the fifth minute.
But the Raiders hit back almost immediately off the back of a penalty when Jarrod Croker made a half break to put Nick Cotric over and steal a 6-4 lead.
Croker further kicked his side ahead in the 13th minute with a penalty goal, but the Knights regained the lead when Jaelen Feeney and Brock Lamb combined beautifully to put Sione Mata'utia through a hole and next to the posts.
Play was stopped in the 29th minute when Jacob Saifiti was injured in an innocuous tackle and was stretchered off on a medi-cab with a suspected neck injury. He was later sent to hospital for precautionary scans.
The Green Machine came out firing in the second half and immediately took back the lead when Elliott Whitehead barged over in the 44th minute.
But the gallant Knights showed plenty of ticker to stay in the arm wrestle, and when Feeney put Joe Wardle through a hole in the 56th minute, they never looked back.
Sione Mata'utia soon had his second try of the day, then elder brother Peter also got in on the action with his own meat pie some moments later.
Cotric bagged his second five minutes from fulltime to give his side some hope, but a classy try to Brock Lamb in the dying moments put the icing on the cake for the Novocastrians.