Newcastle, New South Wales, April 17, 2005 – Francis Meli’s last-second try gave the Vodafone Warriors an extraordinary 30-26 win over the Knights in their sixth-round encounter in Newcastle today.
It came as the visitors pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in NRL history, recovering from 0-20 down just before halftime.
A Sione Faumuina try in the final seconds of the first half left the Vodafone Warriors 14 points adrift.
The Vodafone Warriors fought their way back into the contest in the second half but were still 10 points behind 16-26 heading into the last 15 minutes.
It was at that point that the course of the game changed when the Knights lost the inspirational Andrew Johns with a broken jaw.
Up stepped his opposite Stacey Jones to engineer an astonishing finish to the match. Three tries followed, the second of them to centre Todd Byrne converted by Jones to lock the scores up 26-26.
Jones missed a field goal attempt but still there was time, the Vodafone Warriors going down the short for Meli to seal a remarkable victory.
At EnergyAustralia Stadium, Newcastle
Newcastle Knights 26 (George Carmont 2, Daniel Abraham, Brad Tighe, Todd Lowrie tries; Andrew Johns 3 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors 30 (Manu Vatuvei 2, Sione Faumuina, Clinton Toopi, Todd Byrne, Francis Meli tries; Stacey Jones 3 conversions).
Vodafone Warriors | Jerome Ropati; Francis Meli, Todd Byrne, Clinton Toopi, Manu Vatuvei; Lance Hohaia, Stacey Jones; Karl Temata, Nathan Fien, Steve Price; Awen Guttenbeil, Wairangi Koopu; Sione Faumuina. Interchange: Iafeta Paleaaesina, Louis Anderson, Richard Villasanti, Epalahame Lauaki.
Newcastle Knights | Dustin Cooper; Brad Tighe, Matthew Gidley, George Carmont, Trent Salkeld; Kurt Gidley, Andrew Jones; Craig Smith, Danny Buderus, Kirk Reynoldson; Steve Simpson, Reegan Tanner; Daniel Abraham. Interchange: Luke Quigley, Matt Kennedy, Todd Lowrie, Daniel Tolar.