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Five of the Best: Triumphs Over the Knights

Despite being one of our more recent rivalries, the Sydney Roosters and Newcastle Knights have fought out some epic encounters, particularly in the last 20 years. 

This one was quite tricky to complete, but we did it. Here are Five of the Best Triumphs Over the Knights. 


Toppling the Premiers: Major Semi-Final 1998

Taking on the reigning ARL Premiers is no easy feat, even more so at their home fortress and with a 15-nil deficit to chase.

But that’s the exact scenario that the Sydney City Roosters found themselves in the major semi-final in 1998 – with an Andrew Johns-led Newcastle Knights side propelled with three tries and a field goal setting up a grim scenario for the men from Bondi.

But, as we all know, you could never doubt a side led by the brilliant Brad Fittler, and the Roosters’ maestro was at it right after half-time, setting up a left-side swing to find Richie Barnett in the corner to get his side on the board.

Enforcer: Luke Ricketson gets a hold of a Newcastle player in the tense encounter at Marathon Stadium.
Enforcer: Luke Ricketson gets a hold of a Newcastle player in the tense encounter at Marathon Stadium.

Clawing back into the contest, local junior Luke Ricketson dived over the line soon after, with yet another shift to the left proving fruitful as centre Matt Sing exploded through the defence, closing the deficit to just a single point.

The Tricolours were far from finished though, and as the final quarter of the match loomed, they claimed the lead for the very first time as fullback Darren Junee burst through the line following some clever offloading through the middle.

Capping off a tremendous victory was a four-pointer to Nat Wood in the dying stages of the match, with the Roosters crowing at full-time with the comeback complete.


Sydney City Roosters 26 (Richie Barnett, Scott Gourley, Darren Junee, Luke Ricketson, Matt Sing, Nat Wood tries; Ivan Cleary goal) def Newcastle Knights 15


The Main Event: Preliminary Final, 2000

The late 1990s and early years of the new millennium saw Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns go toe-to-toe on many big occasions, and this one may just have been the biggest.

With a spot in 2000 Grand Final on the line, and with the Roosters looking to make their first decider in two decades, everything was on the line in what would be an enthralling match at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The Knights flexed their muscles early in this contest, striking first after ten minutes, before a Craig Fitzgibbon penalty goal put the Roosters on the board soon after.

But from there the visitors continued to extend their lead, with the scoreboard reading 16-2 at the break – and a mountain to climb for Fittler’s men.

Ten minutes on resumption the Roosters captain combined brilliantly with fullback Luke Phillips, who sent young winger Anthony Minichiello over with a fleeting grubber kick. At 16-8, the comeback was on.

Match Highlights: Roosters vs Knights Preliminary Final 2000

Cometh the hour and cometh the man, it was Fittler who stole the show just two minutes later, famously intercepting an Andrew Johns pass to streak away and score, continuing his side’s fight back with the scores now at 16-14.

Easts then took the lead as Minichiello put Ryan Cross over, now with the lead, and with just over than ten minutes on the clock, they held a ten-point lead.

While Newcastle fought back with a late try, the Red, White and Blue held on to qualify for their first Grand Final in two decades, with a famous 26-20 win.


Sydney Roosters 26 (Ryan Cross, Brad Fittler, Shannon Hegarty, Luke Phillips tries; Craig Fitzgibbon 5 goals) def Newcastle Knights 20


Back in the Big One: Preliminary Final, 2013

Over ten years on from their last epic preliminary final, the last hurdle between the Roosters and a date in the decider came in the form of the Newcastle Knights, led by seven-time Premiership winning coach Wayne Bennett.

The Minor Premiers kicked off proceedings with a penalty goal after Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney combined as the five-eighth was stopped just short of the line, but Newcastle replied in kind with two points of their own.

After a tense first half an hour with the Sydney Football Stadium bursting at the seams, the Red, White and Blue struck in quick succession, firstly with Daniel Tupou scoring from a well-placed bomb, before a Sonny Bill Williams offload sent Dylan Napa and Mitchell Pearce downfield and the half-time score read 12-4 after the Knights kicked a penalty goal after the siren had sounded.

A bounce of the ball went Tupou’s way early in the second half, with the towering winger striding downfield for an 80-metre bust before Aiden Guerra capped off the brave play with a try, pirouetting out of multiple tackles.

Five minutes later the Tricolours were over again, and it was three tries in a matter of ten minutes when Mitchell Aubusson took a pass from James Maloney to ice the result still with a quarter of the match remaining.

Match Highlights: Roosters vs Knights Preliminary Final 2013

Jake Friend looked to replicate his winger, picking up a loose ball to streak away and score, before Guerra went over for his second following a consolation try to the Knights in the shadows of full-time.

The Sydney Football Stadium crowd was in raptures as the Roosters had once again made the NRL Grand Final, reigning supreme with a 40-14 victory.


Sydney Roosters 40 (Michael Jennings 2, Aiden Guerra 2, Daniel Tupou, Mitchell Aubusson, Jake Friend tries; James Maloney 6 goals) def Newcastle Knights 14


The Cavalry Returns: Round 9, 2016

In an otherwise forgettable year, this memorable performance was one that reminded the Roosters’ faithful what their team was capable of – and showed plenty of promising signs for the future.

Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves made their first appearances for the season following suspension and injury respectively, and the confidence they injected into the side was felt immediately as Blake Ferguson crossed over in the corner in the sixteenth minute after being denied earlier on.

Ill-discipline from the Knights gave the Roosters a chance to add a penalty goal, and soon they were running rampant up the middle as a flurry of passes saw Pearce mark his return with a try after half an hour gone. 


Their 14-nil half-time lead extended as rookie fullback Latrell Mitchell had a head full of steam, with Isaac Liu scoring a try through sheer power on the edges before Ferguson got his second after a loose pass was recovered by Ryan Matterson.

A pinpoint accurate kick just minutes later handed the acrobatic winger his hat-trick, with Jake Friend setting up a four-pointer for Mitchell Aubusson with a well-weighted grubber with just minutes to spare as the Roosters crowed with a 38-nil win. 


Sydney Roosters 38 (Blake Ferguson 3, Mitchell Pearce, Isaac Liu, Mitchell Aubusson tries; Jackson Hastings 7 goals) def Newcastle Knights 0


SCG Stunner: Round 18, 2019

Still burning after suffering a heavy defeat up in the Hunter earlier in the season, the Roosters put the Knights to the sword on a picturesque day at the Sydney Cricket Ground late in 2019.

It was a barging Siosiua Taukeiaho who got the ball rolling following the initial softening up period, poking his head through the Newcastle defence to send Luke Keary through, and after a going end to end, James Tedesco finished off a brilliant team try to get the Roosters on the board.

The visitors looked to mimic the Red, White and Blue with a like-for-like burst, only for the final pass to be grounded, and another lost ball over the line courtesy of some desperate defence from Mitchell Aubusson saw the defence unbreached. 

But it was third time lucky for the Knights, who crossed in the corner in the shadows of half-time to leave the scores 6-4 at the break in the Roosters’ favour.

It was another entertaining opening to the stanza for the Tricolours as Latrell Mitchell ran 90 metres to touch down after trapping an attacking kick, but their opponents quickly hit back and brought the difference back to two with a try to Herman Ese’ese.

Highlights | Roosters v Knights

Easts clicked into 5th gear and exploded in the final 26 minutes of the match, with Tedesco bursting through the line before Keary put captain Boyd Cordner over to extend the lead.

The mercurial five-eighth then returned the favour to Taukeiaho by sending him over for a rare four-pointer, before Victor Radley, Aubusson and Nat Butcher found themselves on the scoresheet with consecutive tries. 

With less than 20 seconds left in the match, Mitchell swooped on a loose pass and toed it forward to Daniel Tupou to score, as the Roosters crushed the Knights 48-10 in a memorable victory at the hallowed Sydney Cricket Ground.


Sydney Roosters 48 (James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Boyd Cordner, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Victor Radley, Mitchell Aubusson, Nat Butcher, Daniel Tupou tries; Latrell Mitchell 8 goals) def Newcastle Knights 10



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