Kalyn Ponga came to the Newcastle Knights in 2018 as an unproven commodity.
It’s no secret that the Knights have had a tough run during the last few years.
In the last three years, Nathan Brown has been our coach. He’s had a horror record of 15 wins from 72 matches – 20.83 per cent success (yes you read right) including a 19-match losing streak.
However, that’s in the past and we can’t change that, this isn’t Back to the Future. What I will present here is my five top matches since Nathan Brown began the task of rebuilding the Newcastle Knights.
Five. Round 2, 2017 – Newcastle Knights defeated Gold Coast Titans 34-26
This match will always have a special meaning to me as it was on this day after 19 losses and 336 days that our losing streak was broken.
The Knights opened the scoring with two tries to Brendan Elliott and Jack Stockwell but the Titans stood their ground to steal a half time lead with tries to Konrad Hurrell, Karl Lawton and debutant Tyronne Roberts-Davis, 16-12.
Early in the second half, Nathan Ross scored the first try of already mentioned time but Trent Hodkinson was unable to convert it.
As time went on the Titans took back the lead in the 68th minute with Konrad Hurrell scoring his second of the match but no conversion, 26-22. More heartbreak was looked set to show for the Knights fans until Peter Mata’utia crashed his way over for the Knights to take the lead once more then with two minutes left to go, Nathan Ross put the icing on the cake with his own second try.
This meant the Knights we’re finally back in the winning circle. Fun fact, that was the Knights 350th home game and 700th in Australia. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do.
Fourth. Round 22 2017, Newcastle Knights defeated New Zealand Warriors 26-10
My first ever Knights game in attendance up in Newcastle gave me a real treat. Newcastle opened up the scoring with two quick converted tries in the opening ten minutes to Mitchell Barnett.
The Warriors bounced back with David Fusitu’a improving his tremendous try scoring record against the Knights, 12-4. Two penalty goals to the Knights saw them take a 16-4 half time lead.
The second half saw no points until the 58th minute with rather prolific try scorer Lachlan Fitzgibbon running through a hole set up by Brock Lamb to score his 4th try of the season, 20-4. Nathaniel Roache for the Warriors scored their second and final try in the 64th minute in hope of sparking a comeback, 20-10.
Knights five-eighth Brock Lamb after setting up all three of their first tries, scored one for himself right next to the post for them to take home the win, 26-10
Third. Round 23 2017, Newcastle Knights defeated Parramatta Eels 29-10
This one was memorable for us Knights. Parramatta booked in as favourites to win as they were running hot with a six-game winning streak (funnily enough that’s the amount of games they won in 2018) and the Knights had themselves back to back wins.
Former Eel Ken Sio scored the match opening try in the fifth minute for the Knights and two minutes later, Mitchell Barnett scored his third try in two weeks for the Knights to take an early 12-0 lead.
In the 17th minute, Michael Jennings scored Parramatta’s first try but Mitchell Moses unable to slot the conversion, 12-4. The match saw no more points until Knights junior Will ‘Fresh Prince’ Smith scored in the 39th minute and this time Moses added the extras. The Knights were still in front at halftime 12-10.
The second half saw the Knights with a 17-0 shut out. First try was Lachlan Fitzgibbon’s fifth of the season in the 53rd minute, Lamb followed suit with his own try after beautiful sidestepping in the 59th then Ken Sio added another one to his tally for a double in the 66th minute.
Trent Hodkinson was able to convert Fitzgibbon’s and Lamb’s tries but not Sio, 28-10. In the 77th minute, Brock Lamb kicked his maiden first grade friend goal for the Knights to take home their third win on the trot, 29-10.
Second. Round 5 2018, Newcastle Knights defeated Brisbane Broncos 15-10
A perfect home treat for the fans to see us stick it to a certain coach.
Both teams missed their opportunities to score first points but the scoreless drought was broken by Fitzgibbon off a short pass from Kalyn Ponga, who in turn converted for the Knights to take a 6-0 lead. On the stroke of halftime, Knights halfback and captain Mitchell Pearce added his two cents with a field goal. Knights lead at halftime 7-0.
In the second half, Daniel Saifiti scores an eventually converted try for the Knights to take a 13-0 lead. Broncos hit back with Corey Oates scoring but Jamayne Isaako was unable to convert, 13-4. Kalyn Ponga struck a penalty goal for Newcastle take have an 11 point lead, 15-4.
Anthony Milford crossed over the get Brisbane within a converted try in the 72nd minute, 15-10. The Knights were excellent in defence in the final eight minutes as Brisbane were unable to put any more points on the board. Knights won 15-10.
First. Round 1 2018, Newcastle Knights defeated Manly Sea Eagles 19-18
An absolute modern era thriller at its finest. The kind of thriller you see in movies based on the books of Stephen King.
Our opening match on the season at home in front of 23,516 fans with new recruits playing not just for the team but the town. In the third minute of his Newcastle career, Kalyn Ponga scores and converts his own try for Knights to take an early 6-0 lead.
By that time, his total points for the Knights were more than his minutes for them. Five minutes later, Manly’s Jorge Taufua scored and DCE added the extra to level up the score, 6-6.
Slade Griffin in his first game as a Knight scored his first try with a sneaky close range dummy half run in the 30th minute but Manly struck back with Shaun Lane in the 36th minute for a 12-all halftime score line.
In the second half saw the first 10 minutes as both teams were in a tight tug of war. Minutes after Kalyn Ponga’s brilliant try save on former Knight Akuila Uate, Brian Kelly found his way in down near the left sideline but DCE was unable to convert it.
Manly took the lead for the first time in the match, 16-12. In the 60th minute, Lachlan Fitzgibbon crashed over for his 10th career try which was converted by Kalyn Ponga for Knights to reclaim the lead, 18-16.
A penalty goal in the 76th minute from DCE saw the game locked at 18-all and into Golden Point.
Golden Point was more continuation of the tug of war with both teams missing field goals to win the match. In his 239th match/Knights debut, captain Mitchell Pearce slotted a short range field goal in the 88th minute for the Knights to win just their third game in Golden Point, 19-18.