The Courier-Mail



NEWCASTLE are facing a play-making crisis ahead of a must-win clash against Canberra, with halfback Tyrone Roberts the latest major injury concern out of yesterday’s narrow loss to the Warriors in Auckland.

With skipper Kurt Gidley and Jarrod Mullen already sidelined, along with key forwards Kade Snowden, Jeremy Smith and Robbie Rochow, the Knights lost Roberts to an ankle injury just five minutes into the game.

Coach Rick Stone was forced to use utility Tyler Randell and Knights debutant Carlos Tuimavave in the halves.

While they did not let anyone down in a spirited New- castle performanc­e, Stone’s hopes of ending his side’s run of six defeats from their last seven games when they meet the Raiders on Saturday night at Hunter Stadium will likely rest on the recuperati­ve powers of Roberts and Gidley.

While Gidley is tipped to recover in time from a bad thigh cork, there was uncertaint­y surroundin­g the extent of Rob- erts’ injury. Asked if Roberts’ ankle sprain would keep him out of the Raiders game, Stone said: “I’m not quite sure. Look, if you have a real mild one you could possible play the next week so it all depends on how it swells up and what the scans show.”

With a host of players missing, the Knights were expected to do it tough against the War- riors. But with fullback Dane Gagai and winger Akuila Uate always threatenin­g and the likes of prop Jack Stockwell and Tariq Sims prominent, the Knights were courageous before falling just short.

They paid the penalty for some poor defensive lapses, with the class of the Warriors enough to get them home.

It looked ominous early for the Knights when the Warriors posted two tries in the opening 13 minutes to lead 10-0.

But they had to settle for a 14-8 halftime advantage, with the Knights refusing to buckle under the pressure.

Two brilliant individual tries to Gagai and Uate kept Newcastle in the contest.

The Warriors were aided by a dubious four-pointer to prop Ben Matulino, who appeared to have been held up over the tryline by some desperate Knights defence.

But the video referee surprising­ly upheld the decision of on-field whistleblo­wer Ben Cummins to award the try.

In the second half, the Warriors continuall­y did just enough to hold the plucky Knights at bay.

 ??  ?? FIJIAN FLYER: Winger Akuila Uate scores for the Knights.
FIJIAN FLYER: Winger Akuila Uate scores for the Knights.

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