Ponga’s ‘absolutely horrible’ return from injury
Kalyn Ponga’s return from injury got off to a woeful start on Saturday afternoon — the Newcastle Knights star kicked the ball out on the full with his first touch insix months.
Depleted by injury and languishing in the bottom half of the table, Newcastle headed to the Gold Coast desperate for a win in round five.
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But Ponga swung the game’s first kick-off too far to the right, allowing Titans winger Corey Thompson to catch the ball with his foot on the line and earn his side a penalty.
“That’s an awful start, an absolutely horrible start from the Knights,” said Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane.
“His first effort in the game goes out on the full,” added Steve Roach.
To make matters worse, the Titans’ penalty gifted them a free pass into Knights territory, where they scored a try from their first set of six.
The Titans pounced on an early error from star fullback Kalyn Ponga.Source:Getty Images
“What a start, what a dream start for the Titans,” Ginnane said.
“Newcastle put it out on the full and the Titans don’t even need a full set with Tyrone Peachey setting it up for Kevin Proctor. That’s ominous.”
The Knights came into Saturday afternoon’s clash on the back of consecutive losses to the Tigers and Dragons.
After last week’s defeat, coach Adam O’Brien admitted he would struggle to name a full squad to face the Titans, such is the severity of the club’s injury crisis.
Most devastatingly, halfback Mitchell Pearce suffered a serious pec injury in Newcastle’s round 4 loss and will likely miss several months of footy.
Pearce’s halves partner Kurt Mann suffered a head knock last week, so the Knights will hope their new-look halves combination of Connor Watson and Blake Green can stick it to the stellar Titans forward pack on Saturday afternoon.
The tries continued to flow for the Titans in the first 40.
Star recruit David Fifita bagged a first half double — his second of the year — while Patrick Herbert and Corey Thompson also crossed the chalk for four-pointers.
The Knights managed two tries in the half, the first courtesy of lock Chris Randall. But nothing was going Newcastle’s way — Randall left the field with an arm injury shortly after and will not return.
The Titans also lost centre Philip Sami, who left the field for an HIA after a tackle from Knights enforcer Tyson Frizell.
The side’s second four-pointer came through Starford To’a late in the half, but Newcastle fans have cause for concern heading into the break, with their side down 26-12.
“Things are going very, very wrong for the Knights,” Ginnane said late in the first half.
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