The new Allianz stadium played host to what was one of the biggest matchups of the 2022 season, as the reigning premiers of the Sydney Roosters took down the Newcastle Knights, a likely grand final matchup.
Keeley Joseph made the game's first big play, breaking through the Knights’ defence and putting her team in a threatening position. From here, the Roosters set up a Jasmine Strange try to open the scoring. Kalosipani Hopoate followed up soon after, and the Knights found themselves trailing by double digits within the first 6 minutes.
A series of errors from the Knights, as well as a penalty on Caitlan Johnston, prevented them from being able to put any pressure back on the Roosters.
Their defending kept the Roosters at bay for most of the rest of the first half, excluding a penalty goal for a 12-0 halftime lead.
Looking to strike back in the second half, Romy Teitzel opened second half scoring for the Knights. A missed conversion kept the Rooster's lead at 8 points.
Former Rooster Yasmin Clydsdale was next up to score against her former team, this time with a successful conversion for just a two-point deficit.
The Knights' comeback continued, as Caitlan Johnston broke through the line, putting her team ahead for the first time this game. With only 7 minutes left in the game, the Knights were in an excellent position to head into the final round on top of the ladder.
However, this fairytale comeback was not to be, as a speedy Isabelle Kelly broke through the Knights' line and outran the pursuing defenders. The final conversion was successful and all but confirmed the Roosters as minor premiers for the 2022 season.
Going into the final round, the Roosters can confirm their place as minor premiers with a win against the Titans. The Knights, on the other hand, need both a Roosters loss, as well as to make up a 50-point deficit.
Both of these teams are already in the finals, and few would be surprised if these two sides provide an exciting finals matchup, possibly even a tremendous final matchup.
While disappointed with the loss, Knights coach Ronald Griffiths was pleased with his team's defensive efforts through the last part of the first half.
“I thought the back nine minutes of the first half was what Newcastle was about – and we showed that.
“We put ourselves under great pressure and just stayed there defensively.”
Captain Millie Boyle was also proud of how her group performed.
“We showed that we could really stay in a fight and really proud of the girls for their effort.”
Roosters coach John Strange on the other hand was very dissatisfied with his side’s performance.
“Feels like a loss – like I just said to the girls, it’s more about how we play than the result, and we didn’t play our best footy.
“I felt as though we handed so much to the knights, and to their credit, they kept on fighting and probably should have got the win.
“We don’t want a team that’s going to be reliant on someone like [Isabelle Kelly] or any of these other girls to pull something out, we want to be better as a team."
Isabelle Kelly also reflected on her coach’s comments.
“Something that we are struggling with at the moment is sticking with the grind and building pressure, but the good thing is that we just learned our lesson pretty quickly.”
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