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Knights come from behind to beat Warriors

3 minute read

Kalyn Ponga and Anthony Milford have helped Newcastle claw back a 12-0 deficit to inflict a fourth straight NRL loss on the Warriors in a 24-16 win.

ANTHONY MILFORD.
ANTHONY MILFORD. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga has brushed aside a bout of the flu to declare himself State of Origin ready as Newcastle recovered from a 12-point deficit to beat the Warriors 24-16 in a Redcliffe slog.

And in just the second game at his new NRL club, former Bronco Anthony Milford set up the match-sealing try for the Knights on Saturday, their comeback win making it four straight losses for the Warriors and leaving both sides with 4-8 records.

Ponga didn't train all week but laid on two tries as he sharpened up for Queensland's Origin tilt.

But while Ponga was at his influential best, teammate Daniel Saifiti's push to retain his NSW jersey never got going.

The under-pressure prop was troubled by a suspected medial ligament injury in his right knee that kept him to just one run for seven metres in the first half.

The injury is suspected to be serious enough to rule him out in the short term, putting a line through his already slim chances of adding to his seven Origin appearances.

"For him to come off and not return is not good signs," Knights coach Adam O'Brien said.

"He's tried hard over the last few weeks. The thing I like about Saf is that he owns his performances.

"He is not making excuses. He is the first one to put his hand up and critique his form. I am seeing signs there that he is trying really hard.

"(Ponga) won't tell you, but we only had him today.

"All week he was crook and stayed away from the club. He did five minutes of yesterday's captain's run and woke up this morning and said 'I am ready to go'.

"You can't ask for much more so he's a certainty to wear that Maroons jersey. "

The Warriors looked unperturbed by another week of disruptions stemming from Matt Lodge's curious exit, crossing twice in the first eight minutes thanks to some soft Knights defence on both edges.

A penalty made it 12-0 before Newcastle found some rhythm, helped when Walsh's restart hit the dead-ball line on the full.

Recalled halfback Jake Clifford's grubberkick was perfectly weighted for Tyson Frizell before a strong Milford tackle forced a knock-on, Ponga with quick hands to set up Edrick Lee and level the scores at the break.

Shaun Johnson injected himself, chipping across field for an unmarked Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

But they surrendered their four-point lead immediately, Chanel Harris-Tavita knocking on from the restart and Ponga setting up centre Enari Tuala.

Marcelo Montoya was sin-binned for a high shot on a prone Dominic Young and eventually Newcastle extended a two-point lead, Milford's delicate grubberkick well-placed for Tuala to add a second try and create an eight-point buffer with nine minutes to play.

"We were in total control in the first half then we kicked quite poorly ... let us down bad," Warriors coach Nathan Brown said.

"We invited them back into the contest ... we tried to make it as hard as we could."

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