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The Newcastle Knights have moved in to the top 8 with a dominant 32-12 win over a disappointing Parramatta side, who will finish the round in 13th position. The Eels had a chance to join the heap just outside the 8 if they won.
The mind games started before the game with both coaches making plenty of changes. Brian Smith brought Chris Houston into the #6, pushing Jarrod Mullen to half back and Scott Dureau back to the bench. For Eels coach Hagan, Joel Reddy came in to the side for Tony Williams, and Feleti Mateo replaced Matt Keating. In the forwards Daniel Wagon was ruled out with ex-Panthers enforcer Joe Galuvao moving in to the second row and Weller Hauraki earning a reprieve courtesy of the bench.
The game opened with a member of the crowd running onto the field to assist with a tackle before security stepped in. The Knights opened the scoring in the 7th minute with Houston getting a good ball on his chest from Mullen not far from the try line.
The game evened up with both sides spending some time in the opposing half until James McManus increased the lead to 10 nil when he scored in the corner, although Kurt Gidley missed the conversion from the sideline. On the first set after the kick off Mullen kicked a 40/20 (which was closer to a 30/10) and led to a try in the corner by Adam MacDougall.
The video referee was called into play in the 25th minute when the Mad Dog appealed for the second try but was knocked back after it was ruled that Knights had made an error. The Eels then suffered a blow with an injury to Luke Burt who was assisted from the playing surface and taken to the sheds by the medic.
The Eels took to the half hour mark to register their 10th possession after the Knights onslaught but could not convert this into points. Mark Taufua extended the lead late in the second half after charging over near the sticks.
The Knights went in to half time with a comfortable lead of 14 points after receiving good possession for most of the first half. Mullen and Danny Buderus were setting up the McManus/MacDougall side of the field well where most of the points were scored. The lone Eels scorer was Joel Reddy who crashed over just before half time.
Luke Burt did not return after half time due to his rib injury while the Eels certainly needed him. The second half start was very mundane by both sides until Dureau took the 2 points on offer after receiving a penalty in the Eels half.
Not long afterwards the Knights extended the lead even further when Junior Sau maintained his high try scoring strike rate with a solid try in the 54th minute. Cory Paterson kicked the conversion to be the 3rd Knights kicker used during the match.
Proceedings calmed down towards the middle of the second half after the Knights defence aimed up to combat the massive penalty count to the Parramatta side. A knock-on from Zeb Taia resulted in an over lap on the right hand side in which Todd Lowrie took advantage and scored his first try of the season.
The match closed with Steve Simpson running like a centre and beating the Eels fullback and winger to nab a Dureau grubber kick and score the final try of the match.
The Knights won the battles of the skills and the size despite again being on the wrong end of the penalty count. Young backs Aku Uate, Sau and McManus where strong along with the warhorse for the Knights Adam MacDougall. The puppet master Jarrod Mullen again stole the show with a great kicking game and received good support by Buderus and Dureau. For the Eels, Krisnan Inu and Brett Finch tried hard but lacked the skill to be competitive.
Parramatta defeated the Knights 22-16 in the earlier Toyota Cup clash.
Match Details Newcastle Knights 32 def Parramatta Eels 12 Round 21 - Monday August 4th, 2008 7:00pm Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium Referee: Jason Robinson Touch Judges: Paul Holland, Gerard Sutton Video Referee: Phil Cooley Crowd: 16,435 Halftime: Knights 20 Eels 6 Newcastle Knights 32 Tries: Chris Houston, James McManus, Adam MacDougall, Mark Taufua, Junior Sau, Steve Simpson Goals: Kurt Gidley (2/4), Scott Dureau (1/1), Cory Paterson (1/2) Parramatta Eels 12 Tries: Joel Reddy, Todd Lowrie Goals: Krisnan Inu (2/2) LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Jarrod Mullen (Knights) 2 Points: Adam MacDougall (Knights) 1 Point: Junior Sau (Knights)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Just minutes to kick off at Energy Australia Stadium which will see Brian Smith in his 500th game as a coach. The winner could find themselves and the loser could just about kiss their seasons goodbye.
For Parramatta, Hauraki comes in for Wagon, Reddy for Williams and Mateo for K Keating. Positional changes for both sides. Good crowd with play just around the corner.
1 min: A member of the public just ran on to the field. Security are swarming. Will hear more about this tomorrow.
2 min: 20 metre tap for Parramatta as the kick by Newcastle goes dead.
3 min: Penalty to Newcastle as Uate is hit in mid air by Moi Moi deep in Knights territory.
5 min: Knights on the attack in Eels territory. Parramatta defence looking strong.
9 min: Scrum to Parramatta midfield after the cross field kick goes over the sideline.
11 min: Line dropout by Newcastle after Parramatta got the repeat set. Parramatta well on attack but strong defence still by the Knights.
12 min: Newcastle scrum near halfway after the Eels knock on during a one on one strip while the Knights were in possession. Good opportunity here for the Knights.
13 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Mcmanus scores down the wing after Macdougall sets him. Buderus passed the ball 20 plus metres to get the ball to Maddog for the try assist. Gidley misses from the sideline. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley unsuccessful. Newcastle Knights 10-0
15 min: 40/20 by Mullen. Scrum feed to the Knights 10 meters out from the Eels line.
18 min: TRY Newcastle Knights MacDougall Scores in the corner with a great dummy after the 40/20 by Mullen. Gidley misses again from the sideline. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley unsuccessful. Newcastle Knights 14-0
21 min: 20 meter tap for Parramatta after Reddy watches the Mullen kick go dead.
22 min: Injury- Luke Burt taken from the field.
24 min: Video Ref for possible Knights try. Macdougall forced it after the kick but it could have been grounded already.
25 min: No try. Parramatta working it out from their own line.
29 min: 20 metre tap to the Knights after their defence muscled up. Uate streaking down the sideline but caught by the cover defence near halfway.
34 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Good try to Taufua extending the lead to 18 points to nil. Gidley converts from in front to make it 20-nil. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Newcastle Knights 20-0
37 min: 3rd penalty in a row to Parramatta. The ref had a word to the Knights captain. Eels on the attack 10 meters out.
Half Time- The Knights go in to half time with a comfortable lead of 14 points after receiving good possession for most of the first half. Mullen and Buderus are setting up the Mcmanus/Macdougall side of the field well where most of the points were scored. The lone Eels scorer was Joel Reddy who crashed over just before half time. The Knights look like ending the round in the 8 if they can keep this margin to the 80th minute.
41 min: Eels kick off- News from the sheds is Luke Burt will not be back this match and is suffering rib cartlidge damage.
42 min: Penalty to the Eels deep in their own half due to a strip on Inu.
44 min: Scrum to the Eels 15 metres out from their own line after a clearing kick by the Knights rolls in to touch.
47 min: Poor 5th tackle option by Parramatta and Gidley cleans up 15 meters from halfway in the Knights half.
50 min: PENALTY GOAL Newcastle Knights For some reason the Knights take the two and now extend their lead to 16 after the Eels infringe. Newcastle Knights 22-6
54 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Sua carries 2 defenders over the line to score his 5th try of the season. Paterson has a go at conversion know and kicks it. Conversion attempt by Cory Paterson successful. Newcastle Knights 28-6
58 min: High kick by the Eels and Uate catches in goal on the full to get the 20 meter tap. The Knights are winning the physical battle at the moment.
60 min: Knock on by Hindmarsh gives the ball back to the Knights. The player involved kicks the ball away in disgust.
61 min: Sau beats some good defence but knocks on 15 meters out to butcher a try. Parramatta working the ball out now.
63 min: Video ref for a possible try to Dureau after Sau gets the kick away. Hayne watching it go dead while the Knights player makes the attempt in goal.
64 min: No try. Possession to the Eels from their own 20 meter line after the Knights player was ruled to be over the sideline when the ball was forced.
69 min: Knock on by Taia on the first play deep in his own half. As a result Taia is down injured and signaling for the bench.
71 min: TRY Parramatta Eels Strong try in the right hand corner by the interchange forward after the Eels played the numbers game and got the over lap. Conversion attempt by Krisnan Inu successful. Newcastle Knights 28-12
77 min: Sau held up in goal after great lead up play including a Mullen cross field kick.
Full Time- A tough and skillful Knights side has moved in to the top 8 by defeating an out of favour Parramatta side 32-12. The Knights won the battles of the skills and the size despite again being on the wrong end of the penalty count.