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Knights too good for Titans

Knights too good for Titans Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Action from the Newcastle Knights clash with the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookA HEART scare for Queensland Origin centre Dane Gagai overshadowed Newcastle’s morale-boosting 30-2 win against Gold Coast on Hunter Stadium on Saturday.

Gagai did not return after the half-time break, because he was suffering an irregular heartbeat and had to be rushed to hospital.

Knights coach Rick Stone said he became aware there was an issue when the team physio informed him Gagai had experienced “dizzy spells.

“He didn’t return in the second half and that’s about where I am at the moment,” Stone said.

“Obviously our doctors have managed him, got him into an ambulance and taken him up to hospital for some tests.”

Knights doctor Neil Halpin said Gagaiwas “perfectly comfortable” and there were no indications what had caused the episode.

“He had no chest pain, nothing much more than some irregular pulse during the game, so we sent him to hospital as a precaution,” Halpin said.

“That’s as much as I know really.

“He had no symptoms beforehand.”

The drama took the gloss off a result that ended Newcastle’s six-game losing streak and put two points between them and the NRL wooden spoon.

After 11 defeats in their preceding 12 games, the Knights had slipped to the bottom rung on the competition ladder, a dramatic collapse given they were unbeaten leaders after the first four rounds of the season.

Stone admitted last week that after the 36-22 loss in Canberra the prospect of finishing last was “a worry” and would hopefully spark his players.

If the spectre of the spoon was not enough motivation, Stone’s troops have also endured a week of criticism from fans and the media.

They responded with a performance that lifted them to 14th on the points table, leapfrogging the Titans on for-and-against percentages and leaving Wests Tigers two points below, outright last.

It was Newcastle’s sixth win of the season and first since they beat the Tigers 22-12 on May 17.

For Gold Coast, it was their fourth successive defeat. After Monday’s 38-6 loss to Manly, they have been beaten 68-8 by two teams who were below them on the ladder.

The clash between the NRL’s worst two defensive teams took a surprising 24 minutes to produce a try.

Gold Coast opened the scoring with a Daniel Mortimer penalty goal in the 11th minute and enjoyed an early glut of possession.

But with a howling southerly at their backs, the Knights hit the lead when five-eighth Jarrod Mullen launched a bomb and skipper Kurt Gidley caught it cleanly to score between the posts.

Three minutes later, the home team increased their advantage in fortuitous circumstances when prop Korbin Sims crashed over Gold Coast’s line in a gang tackle, and the ball squeezed out for winger Jake Mamo to force it down in goal.

Sims’ brother, Tariq, scored in the 33rd minute from a Tyrone Roberts grubber kick, and a minute before half-time Roberts added a penalty goal to make it 20-2 at the interval.

Gagai’s withdrawal during the break meant Stone switched enforcer Beau Scott from back row to centre.

Any hopes of Gold Coast capitalising on the wind in the second half were dented after just three minutes, when the Knights kept the ball alive and Mullen backed up on the inside to score.

When rookie hooker Danny Levi barged over from dummy-half in the 53rd minute, and Roberts converted, Newcastle were in complete control at 30-2.

There was controversy in the 66th minute when Titans skipper Nate Myles appeared to drop his knees into a prone Gidley. The incident was not penalised but might yet attract the scrutiny of the NRL’s match-review panel.

Stone produced a number of 11th-hour changes to his squad, replacing Sione Mata’utia with Mamo, apparently after the former was unable to pass a concussion test.

Experienced forwards Clint Newton and Chris Houston were also reinstated on the bench at the expense of Sam Mata’ora and Pat Vaivai.

Stone could be facing a dummy-half dilemma for Saturday’s clash with South Sydney after starting hooker Tyler Randell was knocked senseless trying to tackle big Dave Taylor in the 15th minute and replaced.

With Adam Clydsdale (shoulder) unlikely to be available, 19-year-old Levi, who has four NRL games to his name, appears to be Newcastle’s only healthy hooker.

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