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Newcastle Knights complete huge comeback against Canberra Raiders

The Canberra Raiders have thrown away yet another half-time lead, succumbing to their fifth-consecutive loss as the Newcastle Knights came from behind to win 24-16.

Ricky Stuart’s men have now won just one of their past seven games, throwing away big halftime leads in four of those defeats.

Canberra led the opening game of Super Saturday 16-0 as the siren sounded for the first half in Wagga Wagga today, 16-14 against Souths last week, 24-12 against the Cowboys the week before that and 25-6 against the Warriors back in round three.

“I honestly can’t put my finger on it,” said Josh Papalii when asked about the Raiders’ performances late in games.

“We trained really well this week, we came out first half very direct, and second half we just went missing.

“We just drift away from what’s working.”

The Green Machine were dominant in the opening exchanges, but only had two penalty goals to show for it. It took half an hour for them to find the line via Joseph Tapine, who would later go off injured.

Bailey Simonsson scored just before the break to give Canberra that big cushion, but alarm bells began ringing for fans when Phoenix Crossland scored a minute after the interval.

It was an avalanche of points from there, Kalyn Ponga scoring next, then Tyson Frizell giving them the lead before it was sealed two minutes from full time by Jayden Brailey.

“We just had to find a way to win today – I think last week, a lot of those effort areas weren’t there, and that was a big focus for us today,” Brailey said post-match.

“I think in the first half our D wasn’t good enough – Josh Papalii was getting a lot of offloads and they had a whole stack of possession.

“I thought in that second half, we really turned up for one another and it was a gritty win today. It wasn’t pretty, but we just had to find a way.”

It was a vital win for Newcastle, who themselves were in a massive form slump – onto their fifth halves pairing in nine weeks, and having lost five of their past six games.

“Things weren’t going well as a team or as a club for us in the last couple of weeks,” he admitted.

“When things aren’t going well, you need to be able to stand up – and I did my best to lead the boys today,” the co-captain said.

Kalyn Ponga said a simplification of the gameplan after the restart was critical in reversing their fortunes.

“It’s funny how when you work hard on the simple things, footy’s not too hard.”

Both teams will now travel to Brisbane for magic round; the Knights up first on Friday against the Tigers, and Canberra in the early Saturday game against the Bulldogs.

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