Klemmer back with a bang in ‘Bizarro World’ encounter
After three weeks out David Klemmer proved he will be one of the first picked for the Origin decider as the Knights downed the Broncos on a strange night at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Another in that bung finger on his right hand, too.
And after that ... well, good luck Queensland.
On a night sitting somewhere between bizarre and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dave Klemmer proved the one thing anyone could rely on.
Which is good news for NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler.
Same deal, the entire State.
Even Newcastle skipper Mitchell Pearce … especially if he gets a chance to end the worst losing record in NSW Origin history.
After spending almost a month sidelined by a broken wrist, Klemmer not only starred in the Knights 26-12 victory over the Bronco, but proved -- undeniably -- he will be among the first picked for the Origin decider at ANZ Stadium..
By full-time, the big unit had made 196m - or basically double every other Knights forward.
Most of any forward anywhere, too.
And the wrist?
"Can't feel it at the moment," he grinned afterwards. "It's a bit numb, but all good.
"I got a needle before the game.
"Probably will for the next six or seven weeks. Still need one in my finger too, it's all part of footy."
Quizzed on his shaking the wrist when finally replaced after 49 minutes, Klemmer continued: "I was just trying to get the feeling back. I couldn't feel it.
"I was getting a bit scared, thinking 'is it supposed to feel like this?'."
And soon after, well, he was back out there again.
Which made Klemmer the one constant on a night where Knights winger Edrick Lee played 18 minutes, and scored, with a suspected broken arm, Pearce twiced failed to find touch with penalty kicks, Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd played five-eighth -- which according to coach Anthony Seibold will continue -- Anthony Milford was a fullback, Kalyn Ponga watched from the sidelines and Novocastrian James Gavet ... well, he's the new clubhouse leader for the year's 'Weirdest Sin Binning' (we think it was for attacking the head).
Elsewhere, both sides butchered kick-offs, missed tackles, almost had a full-time stink, and still provided plenty of highlight reel footy through fellas like Novocastrian Kurt Mann, who filling in for Ponga, orchestrated two first half tries.
PEARCE FOR ORIGIN?
Pearce, undoubtedly, is ready to end the worst losing run in NSW history.
But having already twice ruled himself out of contention, do the Blues brains trust want him?
Roughly 48 hours out from the NSW side being announced, Pearce endured a mixed night where he twice failed to find touch with penalty kicks, made a bad defensive read that led to a Brisbane try but still showed plenty of the moments you would expect of a fella who came into the weekend as Dally M leader.
The Knights halfback, you may have heard, has never won an Origin series in seven attempts.
But with Blues incumbent Nathan Cleary currently struggling with a bung ankle, Pearce comes into calculations for a return alongside James Maloney - with whom he won the 2013 NRL premiership.
Quizzed on the errors afterwards, Pearce lamented: "Breeze got hold of two of my kicks, I didn't feel good about them.
"We lost our way for 10 minutes in the second half but got hold of it again and finished off strong.
"We're playing tough, playing for each other. We're building our game off defence."
PONGA ORIGIN READY
Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga insists he will be "sweet" for the Origin decider at ANZ Stadium, despite withdrawing from this one on match day with a troublesome calf injury now requiring scans.
Ponga revealed he had gone to bed Friday night convinced he would play against Brisbane, and only withdrew at the 11th hour after waking up sore on match day. But as for the injury, believed to be the same one he carried into Origin II, keeping the Queenslander from a hyped decider?
"I don't think I'm in doubt at all," Ponga said. "I'll be sweet.
"We were monitoring it all week, and even last night I went to bed thinking I was playing today. But when I had a look at it this morning, it just wasn't as good as I had hoped. I'll get scans tomorrow and we'll go from there.
"There wasn't a moment (in Origin II, where he felt troubled). It just pulled up sore after the game. It should be sweet but I'll get scans tomorrow."
SIN BIN SAGA
OK, so this was a weird one.
Defending his tryline only a couple of minutes after the break, Gavet was making a tackle on Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough when his arm slipped around his opponent's head. Not a great look, but certainly nowhere near, say, a Crusher or eye gouge.
Still, he was marched.
Part of a bizarre night where Lee also played almost 20 minutes with a suspected broken arm - and even scored a try - before being taken from the field and rushed to hospital by Knights medical staff.
Reports suggested the winger suffered the possible break with his first contact. Still, he dived out to score in the corner after four minutes, and played 18 minutes before being replaced.
BRONCOS' FAILED GAMBLE
Darius Boyd played five-eighth for the first time in who knows?
While The Milf, he went to fullback.
But as for the spine experiment being a success? Um, no.
So what's doing with the Broncos?
Starting 2019 as genuine NRL title contenders, and under new coach Anthony Seibold, the Broncos have now slumped to three straight defeats.
Worse, was how they find themselves there - with the McDonald Jones Stadium performance including ordinary defence, a dropout clock penalty, a fifth tackle penalty, conceding a couple of seven tackles sets, and more than one wrong attacking option.
"For us at the moment, Milf is better suited at fullback," Broncos coach Anthony Seibold said. "And Darius's weapons are out the back of shape and on short sides. Him defending the front line is also a good thing."