A mix of Ponga’s from suspension, ex-Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough’s membership debut and captain Mitchell Pearce’s full recreation per week after being concussed aided O’Brien’s trigger at Campbelltown Stadium.
However O’Brien, the person who changed Nathan Brown in Newcastle over summer season, is exhibiting why the membership was so determined to pry him away from two-time premiers the Roosters.
Remarkably, the Knights blasted to a 22-point lead early within the second half earlier than the Raiders flirted with a comeback due to a flying leap from Nick Cotric and a barnstorming solo effort from Josh Papalii.
There was nothing regular in regards to the two non-Sydney groups assembly at a impartial venue in Campbelltown, the place even Raiders boss Don Furner patrolled one grandstand as a ballboy.
Injured Raiders star John Bateman bought amusing out out of his teammates when he ordered a cardboard cutout of co-captain Josh Hodgson to sit down behind the Raiders bench.
However Ricky Stuart wouldn’t have seen the humour in his aspect’s first-half show, which was lightyears away from their victory over Melbourne eight days prior.
Newcastle sensation Finest has made Campbelltown a cheerful looking floor throughout the COVID-19 disaster and he crashed over for the primary strive earlier than Ponga jigged by means of the Raiders’ line to increase the result in 10 factors.
Jack Wighton soared excessive into the air off a George Williams kick to chop the margin to 4, however the hero shortly turned villain when he dragged down Enari Tuala a few minutes earlier than the break as he chased a Finest kick, leading to a penalty strive.
Edrick Lee’s early second-half double, each arrange by luxurious Ponga balls, had the Knights cruising to a 3rd win of their opening 4 matches earlier than the Raiders rallied.
Wighton and Ponga each completed the match with concussion assessments whereas Newcastle No.6 Kurt Mann limped off within the dying moments with an ankle damage.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 34 (Edrick Lee 2, Bradman Finest 2, Kalyn Ponga, penalty tries; Ponga four, Tex Hoy objectives) defeated CANBERRA RAIDERS 18 (Jack Wighton, Nick Cotric, Josh Papalii tries; Jarrod Croker three objectives) at Campbelltown Sports activities Stadium. Referee: Ashley Klein.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports activities reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.