‘Absolutely dangerous’: Kalyn Ponga survives scary fall as Knights dominate Raiders


Kalyn Ponga put his thumb up – and Newcastle Knights fans breathed out.

Following a clumsy and dangerous challenge for a high ball by Sebastian Kris during the Knights’ 28-6 domination of Canberra at GIO Stadium on Saturday, Ponga’s legs flipped into the air and he fell heavily, laying on his side for several moments.

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As teammates showed concern for the concussion-prone superstar, Ponga took a knee, took a breath and gave a thumbs up, much to the relief of Knights fans. Kris was put on report.

“That is absolutely dangerous,” Fox League’s Corey Parker said of Kris’ challenge.

“Yes (he should’ve been sin binned). It was careless.”

The Knights added two more points a couple of minutes later after another Raiders penalty.

Ponga was later ordered off for a head injury assessment but returned to the field with nine minutes to play as the Knights kept continued to run the Raiders ragged.

Indeed so strong was Newcastle it was like they had just continued playing after their seminal win over Melbourne Storm last weekend.

Knights coach Adam O’Brien expressed his relief at how Ponga was able to bounce back from the two second half incidents, pass his HIA and return to the game.

“Yep me, the whole town, KP, everyone who loves footy. It’s really good,” O’Brien said.

“I’ll admit, I did think about (leaving Ponga off) but there’s a flow to them at the moment, they love playing footy and I felt he deserved to be part of what he set up in the first half and so that’s why I went that way.”

Knights Fab Back Five

Newcastle Knights’ vaunted back five ran riot over Canberra with Ponga continuing his hot late-season form.

The star fullback was in everything good for his team in front of 15,487 fans, in 68 minutes he scored a try, ran for 196 metres and laid on two line break assists.

It began from his first touch: after catching Jamal Fogarty’s bomb Ponga ran 60 metres through Canberra defence best described as tentative, even meek. Five men didn’t touch him before fullback Kris brought him down.

Bradman Best was then used as a decoy on the Knights’ vaunted left edge before Jackson Hastings went short to Lachlan Fitzgibbon who found Ponga for the first try.

Hastings went left again, threw a pass that barely brushed Best’s fingertips before Greg Marzhew scored his 14th try of the year.

What worked left, worked right, too. Ponga passed to Dane Gagai who passed to Dominic Young who plunged over in the southwestern corner to score his 20th try of the year and extend his lead over Alex Johnston (18) on the NRL tryscorer list.

Ponga’s second booming sideline conversion made it 20-0 at halftime.

Ladder Leapers

Newcastle leapfrogged Parramatta Eels into ninth place on the NRL ladder, just one point behind Cronulla (sixth), South Sydney (seventh) and North Queensland (eighth).

The Raiders remain in fifth position on the ladder, two points ahead of the three teams mentioned above – and with Newcastle rising fast after four wins on the trot.

Schoolboy Raiders

The Raiders, at times, were comically poor.

Jordan Rapana was late on a drop-out to gift the Knights two points. A Raiders last tackle play was to pass the ball to the ground and then not dive on it. Phoenix Crossland did while also making 44 tackles. If there was a microcosm of the match there it was.

While Newcastle’s defence was swarming and strong, and reduced the Raiders to crashing it up, throwing passes while flat-footed or throwing up speculative bombs, the Raiders’ was, at times, pick your adjective: meek, tentative, passive, effete.

Canberra couldn’t blame conditions which were dry, sunny and still for the 3pm kick-off.


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