Broncos prop Korbin Sims sent a message loud and clear to former club Newcastle on Saturday night with his best performance of 2017.
Sims, who left the Knights for Brisbane six months ago, overcame a physical and verbal barrage from his former teammates and fans to seal the 34-22 win at McDonald Jones Stadium with a try in the 70th minute. The 25-year-old Fijian international barged over three Newcastle defenders from 10 metres out to extend a two-point advantage and help put the round-19 result beyond doubt.
Sims then jumped to his feet and cupped his ear towards the 13,733-strong crowd, who had been quite vocal each time he touched the ball.
“That’s the best game he’s played,” Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said.
“He’s had some good games, but he didn’t want to come back and lose on the scoreboard or come back and not play well. That’s instinctive of anyone whose left a club.”
Sims, who departed Newcastle the same week Jarrod Mullen’s drug scandal broke and Pauli Pauli’s car accident occurred, was clearly targeted by the Knights and was “squared” up in the opening tackle by Josh King.
He responded with a four-pointer, 17 tackles and averaging almost 10 metres per run.
“I think they were having a bit of a yarn in the scrums,” Broncos captain Adam Blair said. “But Korbin’s a big boy, they went at each other fair and it was a tough game.”
Sims’ second carry saw Knights centre Peter Mata’utia knocked to the ground and taken off. He failed a HIA and never returned meaning Newcastle played 76 minutes a man down.
Mata’utia will undergo concussions tests this week to prove his fitness for Friday’s clash with the Roosters in Sydney.
The upcoming encounter shapes as the likely debut for mid-season transfer Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who trained last week but has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since joining Newcastle just before the June 30 deadline.
Knights coach Nathan Brown was left to lament a seventh-straight loss after a similar last-play error to last weekend again cost his side dearly. This time when up 12-6 shortly after the break.
“There were many numbers of things we could have done. We did the worst one,” Brown said.