The Knights are back in the winner’s circle after overcoming a lacklustre start to down the Warriors 24-16.
The “alarm bells” went off early for the Knights when the Warriors scored two “soft” tries in eight minutes.
But they finally came alive and leveled the score before half time.
The Warriors struck first in the second half, but a howler of an error – Chanel Harris-Tavita dropping the kick-off – gifted the Knights the lead when a Kalyn Ponga ball sent Enari Tuala over.
Both sides copped blows in the second half with Daniel Saifiti being ruled out with a knee injury, while Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya was sent to the bin for a high shot.
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‘INEXCUSABLE’ ERRORS HURT BOTH TEAMS
The Knights may have gotten the win but both coaches will have plenty to say to their players after a clunky and error-riddle game.
The Warriors looked on song in the opening 15 minutes, while the Knights were lashed for their “soft” defense after conceding two tries in eight minutes.
“In the opening 10 minutes they concede a penalty, they concede a linebreak and they concede two tries. Honestly they are not here for the task at the moment. They need a big attitude change and they need it quickly, ”Fox League’s Corey Parker said of the Knights.
The tide changed with the Warriors also copping their fair share of flack.
“For the Warriors it was all positive notes for the first 15 minutes and then the next 25, the errors, the kicks out on the full, the two tries conceded,” commentator Andrew Voss said.
“The inconsistency of both teams across the first 40 minutes is alarming.
“Those mistakes are in the Warriors’ DNA,” Voss added after Warriors half Chanel Harris-Tavita dropped the kick-off. “
Both teams finished with nine errors each. Harris-Tavita was the culprit of three of the Warriors, while Shaun Johnson conceded four.
Four of the Warriors’ kicks went out on the full, while poor service from dummy half stung the Knights.
“Can you believe what we’re seeing from both sides with ill-discipline and some poor errors… some of the errors we’ve seen from both of these sides have been inexcusable,” Corey Parker said.
Voss added: “Horrendous… Adam O’Brien has left the field with Nathan Brown and they’re off to the pub.”
RUN SHAUN, RUN!
Premiership-winning coach Shane Flanagan was “frustrated” watching Shaun Johnson in action against the Knights and urged the superstar half to run more.
Johnson’s running game makes him one of the most devastating players in the game on his day but he was a long way off his best on Saturday, making just nine meters off three runs.
“He just won’t run Shaun,” Andrew Voss said.
“I get frustrated with Shaun because I know how good he can be and I just want him to do more of it,” Flanagan said.
“He can take this Warriors team and they can win on the back of his skill-set if he runs the football and attacks the defensive line. But if he wants to try and pass around them, it just won’t work.
“He needs to take the line on and he’ll just create so many opportunities.
“He’s got a nice passing game but he’s got to engage the defensive line a lot more. He’s just going back to his kick a little too often to me.
“If he runs the football the Warriors are a dangerous team.”
While Johnson didn’t ignite his running game, he did put up a nice cross-field kick to set up Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in the corner – which Flanagan was pleased to see.
“That’s exactly what Shaun Johnson can do,” Flanagan said.
“He controlled the whole set there and while I was asking for him to run the ball more, if he gets plays like that on he then he doesn’t have to run it. It was a beautifully-weighted kick… puts it right on the spot. ”
But it will be a game that Johnson would rather forget after it finished on a sour note with the 31-year-old kicking out on the full.
KNIGHTS DUO PUT HAND UP FOR BLUES AS ANOTHER ONE RULED OUT
It’s the weekend of final auditions for a State of Origin call up and two Knights forwards put their hand up, while an incumbent Blue was ruled out.
All eyes were on Daniel Saifiti who was one of New South Wales’ best last year, but has struggled with form in the opening months of the season.
The 26-year-old was under the pump early in the game when his one run for seven meters was compared to fellow prop’s David Klemmer’s five carries.
“The focus is on him (Saifiti) today, David Klemmer has done five hit-ups in the opening 20 minutes, Daniel Saifiti has had one run of the ball. What is going on? ” Fox League commentator Andrew Voss said.
“There’s been 17 hit-ups in the opening quarter of the game and Daniel’s done one of them… It doesn’t make sense… particularly when we’re talking about playing yourself into the Origin side.”
“That’s a good question… He needs to get the ball in his hands,” Shane Flanagan responded.
“Those forwards need to tag-team, they need to work together. He’s a better player than having that amount of carries and meters – especially when his side needs him. “
The comments came during a stoppage of play while Saifiti was being attended to by a trainer after injuring his knee. He left the field a minute later and it was later revealed that he had suffered an MCL injury and would not return to the field.
The injury means he is likely now out of contention for NSW.
But Saifiti’s teammates Tyson Frizell and David Klemmer sent Blues coach Brad Fittler a reminder.
Frizell and Klemmer have both played 14 Origin games but Frizell didn’t feature in last year’s series, while Klemmer hasn’t been picked since 2020.
Frizell scored in the Knights’ win, got a tackle bust and ran for 133 meters, while also making 35 tackles with zero misses.
Klemmer punched out 136 meters – the highest of any forward on the field – and got one tackle bust, two offloads, while making 25 tackles with just one miss.
“Klemmer’s worked hard today… Frizell had a big one too,” Andrew Voss said in a commentary.
Warriors: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Ben Murdoch-Masila 9. Freddy Lussick 10. Jazz Tevaga 11. Euan Aitken 13. Jack Murchie 12. Tohu Harris 14. Taniela Otukolo 15. Aaron Pene 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Eliesa Katoa 21. Dunamis Lui. Replacement player: 17. Eliesa Katoa
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Dane Gagai 4. Enari Tuala 5. Dominic Young 6. Anthony Milford 7. Jake Clifford 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13 Mitchell Barnett 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 17. Mathew Croker 18. Simi Sasagi. Replacement player: 16. Leo Thompson
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