NRL 2019: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad stars for Raiders in win over Knights

A tryscoring double from fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has helped Canberra to a gutsy 17-10 win over Newcastle at GIO Stadium on Friday night.

The seven-point win is the Raiders' second of the season and sees them climb to fourth on the standings.

For Newcastle, the Kalyn Ponga five-eighth experiment appears over after just three NRL games, as he retreated to fullback during the defeat.

Knights coach Nathan Brown initially resisted the urge to backflip on the tactic, opting to start Kurt Mann at fullback, with Connor Watson out through injury.   

The safety-first approach backfired, with Mann putting down a regulation bomb in the first half, while Ponga was virtually unsighted in the opening stanza, held to seven-run metres, before switching roles with 20 minutes to go.

Ponga's return to fullback started shakily, when he came up with an error on a kick return, but the move had a clear impact on their attack, when Shaun Kenny-Dowall crossing untouched to set up a grandstand finish with 16 minutes remaining.   

The Knights looked set to force golden point, when Mann broke into the clear in the 75th minute, but their attacking raid amounted to nothing, when Edrick Lee was dragged into touch on the following play.   

The Raiders got off to a shaky start, with Ryan Sutton and Sam Williams failing to finish off Josh Hodgson's brilliant lead-up work, but it was a case of third time lucky for the hooker, whose angled grubber found a flying Nicoll-Klokstad to open the scoring.   

After looking lackadaisical in attack for the opening quarter, it took a simple one-on-one miss by Jack Wighton to invite the Knights back into the contest, as Jesse Ramien burnt them down the right edge to get the visitors on the board.   

Lee did a remarkable job to deny Joey Leilua a four-pointer, but his defensive heroics only delayed the inevitable, as Williams sliced through to give the hosts a deserved 12-4 lead at the break.   

Persistent rain resulted in a sloppy second half from both teams, but the conditions proved to be Nicoll-Klokstad's best friend, as the slippery fullback broke through to push the lead out to two converted tries, before Williams' late field goal put the result beyond doubt.   

AAP

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