Ponga concussion sours Knights' win over Tigers

Coach Adam O'Brien says he won't rush into a decision on Kalyn Ponga's immediate future after the Newcastle skipper sustained another concussion.

The Knights lost their captain less than 90 seconds into Sunday's meeting with Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval but were able to edge out a gritty 14-12 victory.

Newcastle face the Dolphins in their first home game of the season next Friday with Ponga and hooker Jayden Brailey, who also failed a head injury assessment, both unavailable.

Ponga shifted to five-eighth over the off-season after being given an extended break at the back end of the 2022 campaign due to repeated concussions.

The Queenslander has now suffered four head knocks in the last 10 months but O'Brien wouldn't say if his captain would face more time on the sidelines.

"I've seen him make that tackle 1000 times over the summer, so I'm not too concerned around that," O'Brien said.

"It's too early to say but we'll just follow the protocols.

"We gave him the summer off, he had eight games off last season, he has some extended breaks.

"He obviously won't play (against the Dolphins) because we've got a five-day turnaround.

"He was cleared to play in the last two games last year and we chose to not play him."

The concussions to Brailey and Ponga were not the Knights' only setbacks.

Jacob Saifiti was sent off for a high shot on Tigers hooker Jake Simpkin with 15 minutes left, winger Dominic Young was sin-binned for a professional foul and halfback Jackson Hastings, who was involved in a heated post-game spat, was placed on report for a high shot on Tommy Talau.

"Last year it would've all got too hard for us," said O'Brien, who also lost Tyson Frizell to an ankle injury.

"Things aren't always going to go to plan, but it doesn't mean we can turn it up."

Tyson Gamble slotted in with Ponga out for the count, and the playmaker set up Young and Lachlan Fitzgibbon to give the Knights an early 10-0 lead.

Young was sin-binned for tackling Brent Naden off the ball and while he was off Asu Kepaoa crossed for the Tigers' first.

After the break, Young added a second, before Stefano Utoikamanu crashed over late after Saifiti had been sent off, again giving the Tigers a try against a 12-man opposition.

Head coach Tim Sheens conceded Simpkin and Talau had no hope of featuring against Canterbury next week.

"It's a bit of deja vu from last week; we start well, give up a simple try and end up chasing it all day," Sheens said.

"We're training well and setting it up, we're just taking the wrong pass.

"I think the pressure of chasing has affected us a little."