Luke Brooks has answered his critics and heaped further heartache on Newcastle, leading the Wests Tigers to a 20-12 NRL win at Campbelltown Stadium.
A week after copping some harsh criticism from rugby league greats Andrew Johns and Peter Sterling, the Tigers’ No.7 produced two big plays on Saturday to avoid an embarrassing upset at the hands of the hapless Knights.
After last-placed Newcastle took a surprise lead midway through the second half, Brooks threw a superb cut-out ball to send Josh Addo-Carr over before slicing through the line to score the match-winner.
Brooks was singled out for his lack of involvement in his side’s 36-4 loss to Canterbury but responded by orchestrating his side’s fourth win of the year.
While the victory, in front of 8658 at Campbelltown, did little to relieve pressure on coach Jason Taylor, the Knights continue to flounder with just one win from 11 games.
After going 211 minutes without scoring a try, returning skipper and halfback Trent Hodkinson put the Knights back in the game with a four-pointer in the 32nd minute.
The Tigers had all the momentum and field position in the first half and, after blowing a handful of early opportunities and twice electing to go for a penalty goal when on the attack, they took just a 10-6 lead into the break.
And when Dane Gagai found the Tigers’ defensive line open up in front of him, he danced over to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match in the 49th minute.
The Tigers were forced to battle for most of the second half with just two men on the bench after Matt Ballin and Ava Seumanufagai were both forced off because of concussion.
Ballin’s first game in Tigers colours, and his first match in eight months because of a knee injury, lasted just a couple of minutes and he contributed just two tackles before being helped from the field.