Newcastle 18 Brisbane 18
Untouchable: Justin Hodges goes in to score. Photo: Ryan Osland
KNIGHTS coach Wayne Bennett said their 18-all draw with the Broncos at Hunter Stadium last night was as important as a win.
Down and seemingly out, trailing 18-10 with eight minutes left in regulation time, the Knights rallied with tries to Beau Scott and Aku Uate but could not convert either.
Knights v Broncos
Sam Thaiday makes his presence felt. Photo: Ryan Osland
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Tetavano, Leilua, Scott, Uate||Tries||4||Tries||3||Players||Hodges, Parker, Reed|
|Players||Roberts 1/2 (50%), Gower 0/2 (0%)||Conversions||1||Conversions||3||Players||Prince 3/3 (100%)|
|Players||Penalty goals||0||Penalty goals||0||Players|
|Players||Mullen 0/4 (0%)||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players||Hunt 0/1 (0%), Wallace 0/1 (0%)|
Skipper Jarrod Mullen had four shots at field goal to try to break the deadlock in extra time - two were charged down and two shaved the posts - but he helped engineer Newcastle's fightback with the final pass for Scott's try in the 72nd minute and a cut-out bullet for Dane Gagai, who found Uate with a one-armed flick pass in the 78th.
With regular goalkicker Tyrone Roberts sitting on the bench on the sideline for the last 15 minutes, Craig Gower was given the task of trying to convert both tries but the makeshift marksman never looked like kicking either.
The Knights (23 points) remain in eighth position but could be leap-frogged by the Warriors (22), who play the Sharks (24) on Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium.
Newcastle have to play the Broncos again at Suncorp Stadium on August 30 among their last five games of the regular season, which includes the Sharks (away), Storm (home), Cowboys (away) and Eels home, but Bennett was more than satisfied with one point last night.
"We did what you want your football team to do -- not to give up, and to keep at it," Bennett said.
"As far as I'm concerned, that one point for us in the position we're in, that's as good as a win."
The gripping 90-minute stalemate was veteran hooker Danny Buderus's 249th game for the Knights, equalling the record set by his great mate and long-time former Newcastle, NSW and Australian team-mate Andrew Johns, who retired six years ago due to a neck injury.
The NRL's oldest player, 35-year-old Buderus will have the record to himself when he plays his 250th game against Cronulla at Remondis Stadium next Saturday night.
Mullen was kicking himself for not landing a field goal and capping Newcastle's comeback with a victory but was pleased with the character and commitment his team-mates showed to battle back for a draw.
Newcastle squandered a gilt-edged opportunity in golden point when fullback Darius Boyd recovered Mullen's first charged-down kick in the 84th minute and put the Knights on the attack with a full set deep in Brisbane's red zone.
Inexplicably, the Knights turned down several chances to kick a field goal early in the tackle count, and Mullen's attempt from a scrum win with 35 seconds left in the first period of extra time was charged down.
Mullen pushed another attempt wide one minute into the second extra period, but the Broncos recovered and set up their shot at victory when Jack Reed out-jumped Boyd to regather Ben Hunt's bomb, and Reed's grubber was knocked dead by Kevin Naiqama.
Peter Wallace was off-target with his attempt two plays after the Broncos retrieved Newcastle's line drop-kick, then Mullen missed again at the end of Newcastle's set.
"A couple of them went to the right there, but that's golden point. It's just frantic," said Mullen, who played with stitches in a deep facial cut suffered when he tackled Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner last Sunday.
"You're all thinking field goal and you're not thinking try. I had a couple of missed opportunities there, but I think we did really well to come back from 18-10 down with about 10 minutes to go. It was a big effort."
Bennett defended his decision to leave Roberts on the sideline during the frenetic final minutes of regulation and extra time.
"Who knows if we'd have been there if he was on the field. Who knows?" Bennett said.
"I've got no regrets about that. We had a game to win, and you've got interchange players and you've got to try to get in your head what's going to work for you and I could see them trying their hearts out, and I was just trying to help them ... get to what we were trying to get.
"That's what you've got to do as a coach - support them as much as you can - and your goal kicks become irrelevant if you don't score the tries."
Brisbane (19) will probably have to win their last five games to have any chance of sneaking into the finals but captain Sam Thaiday remained confident.
"Mrs Jones will probably tell you I wasn't too good at maths at school ... but we're not doing any sums at the moment," Thaiday said.
"We're just trying to play some tough footy and I think we're doing that."
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said he was pleased with his team's ability to salvage a point after the Knights dominated field position and possession in the second half of regulation and much of extra time.
"I was very proud of their efforts. We showed a tremendous amount of character," Griffin said.
"That second half, we just couldn't get any ball or any field position.
"The opposition were obviously extremely good - I think they peeled off 23 sets without an error - so it doesn't feel like a loss.
"There's a lot of positives to come out of it ...
"We've been on the road for two weeks and had a couple of really tough games against some desperate teams, and we've only got three points instead of four, but we showed a lot of character to get ourselves those."
NEWCASTLE 18 (J Leilua B Scott Z Tetevano A Uate tries T Roberts goal) drew BRISBANE 18 (J Hodges C Parker J Reed tries S Prince 3 goals) after golden-point extra time at Hunter Stadium. Referees: Ben Cummins, Chris James. Crowd: 16,486.