Corey Norman emerged as St George Illawarra’s match-winner for the second straight week, kicking a 42-metre field goal deep into extra time for a 13-12 victory over Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday night.
Norman’s last-play field goal secured a 25-24 win against his former club Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium 10 nights earlier and his left boot again proved the difference against the Knights when he nailed his golden-point kick in the 88th minute.
The teams were locked at 12-12 after a tense 80 minutes of regulation time, in which both sides were unsuccessful with field goal attempts in the final few minutes to make it only the second time in history that a round has contained three extra-time matches after it first occurred in round 23 of 2007.
Norman and fellow playmaker Ben Hunt were off target in the first five minutes of extra time, then Norman was given another chance after the Knights made a meal of their previous set of six.
The Dragons’ second win of the season continued their remarkable run of success against the Knights, who have now lost three on the trot after a first-up 14-8 win against Cronulla.
Match: Knights v Dragons
Round 4 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
It was the Dragons’ eighth win from their past nine against the Knights and meant they retained the Alex McKinnon Cup, which they have held since its inception in 2015.
Newcastle benefited from Kalyn Ponga’s return to fullback.
Ponga, who had played the first three games at five-eighth, delivered the final pass for Newcastle’s two tries and converted one of them to give the Knights a 10-8 lead at the break.
Norman wins it in golden point again
The visitors opened the scoring with a Tim Lafai penalty goal in the eighth minute after Sione Mata’utia was caught off-side recovering a spilled kick.
Newcastle responded three minutes later when Ponga delivered a bullet pass for Edrick Lee to cross in the corner for his third try of the season. Ponga cut out Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Hymel Hunt to create space for Lee to score, then converted from a wide angle for a 6-2 lead.
The Dragons hit back in the 24th minute when Tyson Frizell, who had only just entered the game, stripped the ball from Knights skipper Mitchell Pearce to score under the posts.
Returning after missing the previous two games because of a lacerated testicle, Frizell followed Norman’s grubber kick then monstered Pearce to wrestle the ball loose.
Lafai converted from in front for the Dragons for an 8-6 lead but the Knights regained the advantage six minutes later. Ponga created the extra man on Newcastle’s left edge and delivered a short pass for Hunt to touch down untouched.
Korbin Sims was replaced at half-time after playing 15 minutes with a suspected broken arm. Sims came off the bench in the 21st minute and appeared to suffer the injury in a gang tackle carting the ball forward from the kick-off after Frizell’s try.
He favoured his left arm for the rest of the half and it was clearly a contributing factor when he lost the ball close to the Newcastle line trying to score in the 32nd minute.
Ponga mesmerizes defence
A David Klemmer handling error gave the Dragons a chance to attack in the 55th minute and they took advantage. Fullback Matt Dufty threw a long pass for right winger Mikaele Ravalawa to score, punishing Lee for rushing in-field and turning his back on his opponent.
Lafai could not convert from touch, leaving the Dragons 12-10 in front.
Tariq Sims was penalised for a late, high tackle on Pearce after the Newcastle captain’s clearing kick in the 62nd minute. Ponga kicked the subsequent penalty goal to level the scores at 12-12.
Dufty dropped a Pearce bomb in the 67th minute but the Knights could not take advantage. From the subsequent set, pivot Mason Lino spilled a pass on the last tackle close to the Dragons’ line.
Pearce had a field goal attempt charged down in the 73rd minute and missed with another field goal shot in the 78th minute, Norman missed for the Dragons a minute later, then Pearce’s 50-metre attempt in the final minute drifted right.
Sims injured in big collision