Newcastle Thunder 22 - 40 Toronto Wolfpack

Newcastle Thunder 22 - 40 Toronto Wolfpack

13th May 2017

Newcastle Thunder delivered a performance filled with passion and pride at Kingston Park Stadium on Friday evening as they served up

Mick Mantelli’s side put the highest number of points past the Wolfpack in League 1 to date as they made their star studded visitors work hard for their seventh consecutive win in the competition.

Right from the off, Thunder set about asking questions of the Wolfpack as they ran hard in attack and stuck well to their defensive lines to restrict the visitors progress.

It was Thunder who went closest to scoring first thanks to a nice idea from half-back Lewis Young, who attempted to exploit space in behind the Wolfpack defence with a neat chip and gather.

It drew in the last defenders, but the supporting Dan Parker was unable to take the 2016 young player of the year’s pass, allowing the Wolfpack instead to embark on the set that would see them open the scoring.

A neat grubber kick sat up just long enough for Ryan Brierley to get his hands to the ball before it rolled dead, but it was a converted score that arguably came against the run of play.

Doubling their lead on 12 minutes, the Wolfpack were being asked plenty of questions by Newcastle, while total commitment in defence was seeing the home side keep the Wolfpack at bay with some brilliant try saving tackles.

Then, with a quarter of the match in the books, a moment of sheer determination was followed up by some sublime skill to get Thunder off the mark.

Running a hard line in the centre of the park, Derrell Olpherts blasted his way out of an attempted tackle and into a clear channel. The centre then weaved his way around the cover defenders and after seeing a pass to his support runners wasn’t on, instead delivered an outstanding cross field kick for an onrushing Zach Clark to gather and score.

With Benn Hardcastle unable to add the extras, the Wolfpack were still more than one score in front but Thunder were proving to be a match for their exalted guests.      

With 12 minutes to go to the break, Toronto began to hit their straps and in the space of eight minutes managed to put some daylight between themselves and the tenacious Thunder with three tries, two of which were converted before the interval.

Two came from moments of skill, while one was a gift as Thunder attempted to pick off a wide pass with a hopeful interception attempt, which instead found its intended recipient and allowed Liam Kay to canter in from 50m out.

There was still time for Thunder to launch one last attack, with a superb carry from Danny Nicklas setting a platform for an attempted kick through, but an awkward bounce evaded Olpherts and allowed Toronto to defuse the threat.

Having performed admirably, Thunder got the second half off to the perfect start with plenty of pressure applied to their visitors and a try to take reward for their efforts as Nicklas crashed over from close range.

A successful conversion made it 10-28 but the Wolfpack were able close off the inroad made by the hosts seven minutes later but as the match progressed, the continued defensive heroics from Thunder were lifting the 1,087 strong crowd who in turn were willing their side on.

With eight minutes remaining Young got Thunder a try back as he slid his way through three attempted tackles on his way to a superb individual try before two quick penalties allowed Thunder to work their fourth try of the night, a trademark sniping effort from Evan Simons.

Both were converted by Hardcastle and while with just four minutes remaining a win was unlikely, Thunder weren’t about to die wondering.

When the Wolfpack knocked on just inside Thunder’s half, the hosts threw everything they had at Toronto to try and finish with a flourish, but it instead allowed Paul Rowley’s side to have the last word with a breakaway try in the 79 minute.

It however failed to cast a shadow over what was a thoroughly entertaining and impressive performance that sent out a clear message about Thunder’s intentions for the rest of the year and set up next Friday's home game against York City Knights perfectly.

Newcastle Thunder Squad

Jared Simpson (DR), Ali Blair, Joe Brown, Derrell Olpherts, Zach Clark, Lewis Young, Benn Hardcastle, Vincent Rennie, Evan Simons, Sam Luckley, Dan Parker, Rhys Clarke, Liam McAvoy, Danny Nicklas, Brett Waller, George Milton (L), Matty Barron

Try Scorers – Clark (21) Nicklas (46) Young (72) Simons (76)

Goal Scorers – Hardcastle (46, 72, 76)

Toronto Wolfpack Squad

Craig Hall, Jonny Pownall, Greg Worthington, Quentin Laulu Togagae, Liam Kay, Blake Wallace, Ryan Brierley, Fuifui Moimoi, Bob Beswick, Jake Emmitt, Shaun Pick, Adam Sidlow, Richard Whiting, Steve Crossley, Ryan Bailey, Sean Penkywicz, Gary Wheeler

Try Scorers – Brierley (6, 80) Wallace (11) Pownall (27) Kay (30) Togagae (34) Beswick (54)

Goal Scorers – Hall (6, 11, 30, 34, 54, 80)

Newcastle Thunder 22 - 40 Toronto Wolfpack