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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald

Kalyn Ponga stars as Knights score crucial win against Gold Coast Titans

Newcastle's players celebrate Dominic Young's try. Picture by Getty Images

KNIGHTS skipper Kalyn Ponga provided the perfect response to those who doubted his ability to make the transition to five-eighth with a man-of-the-match display in Newcastle's 46-26 win against the Gold Coast at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.

In his first game since his heavily criticised performance in a 43-12 loss to Parramatta, Ponga scored one long-range try and produced three try assists in an emphatic reminder of his capabilities.

Under scrutiny after the likes of Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler and Cameron Smith declared he should be reinstated as fullback, Ponga delivered an on-field riposte that will only enhance his claims for Queensland selection in the State of Origin series opener on May 31.

The win lifted the Knights to within a point of the top eight.

Scores were locked 12-all after an error-riddled first half.

The Knights drew first blood in the 13th minute when halfback Jackson Hastings chip-kicked and winger Dominic Young took a difficult catch to plunge over and score.

Fullback Lachlan Miller missed the conversion but added a penalty goal soon after to make it 6-0.

Barnstorming back-rower David Fifita crashed over in the 16th minute to equalise, then Gold Coast grabbed a 12-6 lead four minutes later when winger Phillip Sami leapt high latch onto a cross-field kick and grounded it safely over the line.

Just as it appeared the Knights would be heading into the break facing a deficit, Ponga grubber-kicked in the last minute of the half and back-rower Tyson Frizell won the race to retrieve it and score.

The Titans edged back ahead four minutes after the break wen they kept the ball alive and fullback Jayden Campbell backed up to score out wide.

From an acute angle, Titans half Tanah Boyd converted his third goal of the game to give the visitors an 18-12 lead.

Five minutes later, Newcastle hit back when winger Greg Marzhew overpowered four defenders to score in the corner, after a Ponga pass.

Miller's conversion attempt hit the upright, leaving Gold Coast clinging to a two-point advantage.

The Knights surged back in front minutes later when they worked a set move and Ponga threw the final pass for centre Bradman Best to race away and score.

Five minutes later, Ponga darted through the line and ran 65 metres to score his first try of the season, evading Campbell with a dummy and a swerve.

Fifita showed remarkable pace to run 90 metres for a try in the 71st minute after scooping up a Miller kick.

Best picked up a double in the 75th minute when the Titans fumbled in their own in-goal area.

Young iced the win with a spectacular 95-metre runaway try a minute from full-time.

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