A second-half masterclass from teen sensation Jesse Southwell has helped the Knights storm home to beat Canberra 20-12 to snap the Green Machine’s perfect record at GIO Stadium.
The defending premiers looked headed for a loss when they went into the sheds down 10-0 at the break, but their star halfback led the comeback which saw them hit the front just 18 minutes later when Southwell dummied and crashed over.
The young gun nailed a 40/30 in the first half but had struggled to get into the contest, even conceding a penalty for taking too long to take a goal line dropout which gifted Canberra two points from in front.
But she stood tall when it mattered most, throwing a cut out pass for Sheridan Gallagher to continue her scoring streak before Southwell nailed the sideline conversion and then crossed for her own four-pointer to break the deadlock.
It’s a huge result for Newcastle who go top of the table for now ahead of next week’s game at home against premiership favourites the Roosters in what should be the match of the year.
Canberra’s perfect record at home has come to an end after another second-half fadeout which could see them drop out of the top four by the end of the round.
The NRLW newcomers won their first three games at GIO Stadium and looked set to make it four on the trot when Madison Bartlett crossed for a first-half double, but they managed just two points after the break having been held scoreless in the second half last week.
Mackenzie Wiki had a field day with 238 metres despite coming off for an HIA, but their spine offered very little in attack while superstar forward Simaima Taufa was forced to do all the heavy lifting in the middle.
A flurry of tries either side of half-time has helped the Broncos jump into the NRLW top four for the first time this season after they held off a furious comeback to beat the Sharks 32-28.
Cronulla had the upper hand for much of the opening half until Brisbane went bang with a couple of quick tries including a stunning solo run from Gayle Broughton who scored twice on Saturday and continues to look really sharp in the halves.
“Gayle is an integral part of our spine,” coach Scott Prince said.
“For her to score just before half-time gives you that little bit of a kick you need and takes the wind out of the opposition.”
They continued to pile on the pain in the second half when Broughton threw a lovely pass to Julia Robinson who scored in the left corner, before the crafty Destiny Brill barged over from dummy-half to push the lead out to 10.
The Broncos have now won four games and leapfrog Canberra and the Titans on points differential, although Gold Coast have a game in hand.
It’s a terrific fight back when you consider how low morale was after they missed the finals last year and then opened the new campaign with back-to-back losses.
But new coach Scott Prince has them firing, with Broughton finding her own in the halves on a left edge that is proving impossible to stop with weapons like Mele Hufanga and Tazmin Gray at her disposal.
One more win might be enough to book their spot in the finals, but they’ll need to fix their leaky defence after the Sharks piled on the points late to nearly steal the win.
“It was a finish we didn’t want,” Prince said.
“When you’re in that sort of lead, it’s really important to put the game away. You can’t really switch off against any team in this competition.”
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE
The Sharks are now four points outside the top four with two rounds remaining, but the NRLW newcomers will feel like they should have left Townsville with the win after dominating the start and finish to the contest.
Their big guns all hit the scoreboard with Ellie Johnston and Jada Taylor touching down in the first half, only for Emma Tonegato to come off for an untimely HIA just before the break which allowed Brisbane to seize control.
It looked like Brisbane would run away with it in the second half, but two tries in 60 seconds – including a brilliant bust from Tonegato who was wearing No.22 because her other jersey was coated in blood – reduced the margin to just four with five minutes to play.
And the Sharks had their chances to level things up but they just couldn’t find a way through, with Cronulla needing to win their remaining two games and hope for a miracle if they want to somehow sneak into fourth spot.
Originally published as Superstar Southwell shines as Knights fight back to go top of the NRLW table