In a final minute thriller at WIN Stadium, the Dragons were able to edge the Knights in an entertaining encounter.
St George Illawarra centre Zac Lomax kicked a one-pointer to break the 16-16 deadlock but his side weren’t finished there.
Off the kick-off, the Red V went coast to coast, with Junior Amone running the ball on the last to slice through the line before the ball eventually found Mat Feagui who broke through several tackles and put the icing on the cake.
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The Dragons came away with a 21-16 win in front of their home fans to break their five-game winless streak.
Earlier, Jack Bird sparked his side’s comeback with a bizarre try, which saw the ball bounce off the back of a Knights defender before bobbling into his path.
Ben Hunt and Moses Suli combined on the left side of the field time and time again, besting Kalyn Ponga and Dane Gagai who had a hand in all of the Knights points.
The Dragons continue an unbeaten streak on Easter weekend, winning the last nine years in games over the long weekend.
The Knights 24-year-old fullback performed admirably, with a try and a try assist but it wasn’t enough to get his side over the line, slumping to four straight losses.
Here are the big takeaways from tonight’s thrilling encounter!!
PONGA FINDING HIS FEET AMIDST CONTRACT MADNESS
Amidst all the contract distractions and speculation, Kalyn Ponga has looked past the noise to deliver a strong performance against the Dragons.
The fullback was quiet for the first half hour, before injecting himself into the game with a moment of magic.
Ponga received the ball with his back to the defensive line, dancing before charging through a gap between Tariq Sims and Moses Suli to find winger Enari Tuala.
“Skill personified there,” Andrew Voss said.
“The speed of Ponga, gets him inbetween two Dragons defenders and then the class ball,” Greg Alexander said.
Later he was in the right position at the right time to score a try of his own after a Bradman Best break.
Ponga continued to threaten and was clearly the Knights best chance or recording points late in the piece.
In breaking news which was revealed moments before the Knights took the field, the club reportedly pulled their extension offer according to The Daily Telegraph, opening the door for the Dolphins to swoop.
It was initially reported Ponga had signed a five-year deal, but it was pulled by the Knights on Friday.
Coach Adam O’Brien shrugged off the news in the post-match press conference, again going in to bat for his star fullback.
“I think his performance tonight showed how committed he is to this team,” O’Brien said.
Ponga now has a big decision on his hands, being signed until the end of 2024, but the last two years being an option in his favour.
On Sunday afternoon Ponga recorded 162 running metres, three tackle breaks, one line breaks, a try and a try assist but was still not enough to get the win for his team.
The Knights are now on a four game losing streak and struggling for form, not helped by Adam Clune’s pre-game omission.
Wayne Bennett has been working hard to secure Ponga’s signature, hosting the gun fullback for a lunch.
Now, he will be more confident than ever of scoring a marquee player.
SULI’S BIG DAY OUT
Moses Suli was simply outstanding in the Dragons victory over the Knights.
The 23-year-old fullback consistently broke the line and caused nightmares for opposing centre Dane Gagai.
The young gun, who has had big wraps for years, has had stints at the Tigers and Sea Eagles, where he showed he was good enough for first grade.
Suli was edged out of Des Hasler’s team in his final two seasons in Manly, with the Sea Eagles coach favouring Morgan Harper and Brad Parker.
Anthony Griffin scooped up Suli, who has been quiet to start the year, but erupted on Easter weekend.
Suli recorded a staggering 152 run metres from 20 runs, 54 post contact metres, five tackle breaks and two try assists.
Fox League’s commentators were clearly impressed with Suli, continually causing headaches for the Newcastle defence.
“What a day he is having Moses Suli,” Andrew Voss said.
“Moses Suli, how good has he been for the red and whites this afternoon,” Greg Alexander said.
DRAGONS’ STUNNING EASTER RECORD
Rarely do you see a stranger statline than the Dragons Easter weekend winning record.
Prior to their win over the Knights, the Dragons last two wins came against the Warriors, winning only two of their past 14 games.
The Dragons now have two wins to their name in 2022 and Easter weekend came at the perfect time for coach Anthony Griffin.
The Dragons have the best record of any team in the NRL era on the Easter long weekend, winning 17 times from their last 23 starts.
That number also includes nine wins in the last nine years, being easily the best streak in the NRL.
St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin has been under fire in recent weeks after dropping young guns Junior Amone and Tyrell Sloan.
While he still has a long way to go with his side, their final minute win could be the catalyst to kick start a run in 2022.
In even more positive signs for Anthony Griffin, young playmaker Amone starred in the last play of the game.
Instead of putting in a safe kick and hand the ball back to the Knights with a one point lead, Amone ran the ball, slicing through the line to find support which ended up creating a try in the final seconds to secure the victory.
“Big moment for Talatau Amone, out of dummy-half he must have wondered, will I go for it or not, Ben Hunt was there waiting for the kick,” Greg Alexander said.
“But he didn’t second guess himself Amone.”
The Knights will be without crucial half Adam Clune for their clash with the Dragons.
Clune has formed a formidable partnership with young gun Jake Clifford in the Hunter side’s opening rounds, but has been replaced by Phoenix Crossland.
Both the Dragons and Knights get a timely return of key enforcers as they go head-to-head in a crucial Easter Sunday clash.
The Knights have lost three games in a row after impressing in the opening fortnight of the competition, while the Dragons are desperate to snap their four-game losing streak.
Star prop David Klemmer is set to make an early return from a knee injury in a huge boost for the depleted Knights. His return pushes Jacob Saifiti back to the bench.
Coach Adam O’Brien was forced to reshuffle his spine with Adam Clune ruled out an hour before kick-off. Phoenix Crossland was promoted to the halves while Simi Sasagi joined the bench.
Edrick Lee comes in to replace Dominic Young and will play his first top level game since the 2020 State of Origin series.
Josh McGuire returns from a lengthy ban for the Red V, while Josh Kerr has been promoted to the starting pack with Aaron Woods moving back to the bench.
Dragons: 1. Moses Mbye 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jack Bird 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Josh Kerr 11. Tariq Sims 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack de Belin 14. Talatau Amone 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Josh Mcguire 17. George Burgess. Replacement player: 18. Tautau Moga
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 14. Phoenix Crossland 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 15. Jacob Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Kurt Mann 18. Simi Sasagi 10. Daniel Saifiti 16. Leo Thompson 17. Sauaso Sue. Replacement player: 20. Tex Hoy
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