Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Fulltime score: Round 14 Newcastle Knights 0 v Parramatta Eels 50
The half-time score of 0-20 flattered the Eels a little, who took a while to assert their dominance on the game but certainly came out firing in the second half as they comprehensively put the Knights to the sword.
Mark Riddell was a stand-out for the Eels tonight, with some strong dummy half work in the first half before playing most of the second half as a strong running forward. He also landed a perfect 6/6 with the boot as he took on the goalkicking duties for the first time this season. Other Eels to impress included P.J Marsh, Dean Widders, Wade McKinnon and Tim Smith - the latter providing a beautifully controlled passing and kicking game which showed maturity beyond his years.
Although the scoreline suggests otherwise, the Knights never threw in the towel in the face of a Blue & Gold onslaught. Luke Quigley put in a huge defensive effort and Milton Thaiday looks to be a sharp prospect for the future, but the Knights were let down by a lack of attacking options and often looked lost on their occasional ventures into Eels territory.
As well as suffering some embarrassing defensive lapses, there was also an embarrassing security lapse late in the match as a fan managed to get himself onto the playing field and looked to be positioning himself in the Knights defensive line. While he turned out to be a goose, there will still be some questions asked of the security at the ground who took an awfully long time to get him back off the field.
Scorers: NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 0 Tries: Goals: PARRAMATTA EELS 50 Tries: Widders 2, Marsh 2, Cayless, T Smith, Morrison, Wagon Goals: Riddell 6/6, Morris 3/3
Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium Referee: Shayne Hayne Half time: Knights 0 Eels 20
Live commentary: Welcome to EnergyAustralia Stadium for tonights clash between the Knights and the Eels. One late change for the Eels - Luke Burt is out and replaced by Matt Petersen. For Newcastle, Dane Campbell will fill the halfback spot vacated by Andrew Johns. Matt Gidley is also out injured, with Brad Tighe coming into the team.
0 min: Kickoff!
5 min: Solid start by both teams, with plenty of strong defence so far.
6 min: TRY - Eels Mark Riddell makes a great break from dummy-half and feeds Nathan Cayless who opens the scoring tonight. Riddell gives his first 'salute' for the Eels as he pots the conversion. Knights 0 Eels 6
15 min: PENALTY - Eels Craig Smith gives away a penalty from the marker position. Mark Riddell kicks his 200th career goal for another two points. Knights 0 Eels 8
18 min: The Knights have had their first complete set inside the Eels 20, but their attack is well contained by some swarming Eels defence.
22 min: A knock-on from the Eels 10 metres out from their own line hands another excellent opportunity to the Knights.
The video ref is checking a possible Knights try ...
25 min: TRY - Eels P.J Marsh scoots out of dummy-half and through some soft defence to score under the posts. John Morris adds the extras. Knights 0 Eels 14
30 min: Consecutive penalties to the Knights hand them another perfect attacking chance, but they just can't find a way through the Eels goal-line defence.
34 min: TRY - Eels Dean Widders powers across, carrying two Knights on his back as he scores the try. The Eels are making plenty of breaks from dummy-half to set up their great field position. John Morris kicks another two points with the conversion. Knights 0 Eels 20
HALFTIME: Knights 0 Eels 20 The Eels are playing a simple but very effective game tonight, and finding plenty of holes up the middle of the ruck through Mark Riddell and P.J Marsh. Although they lead by 20, they give the impression that they haven't really extended themselves too much. Unfortunately for the Knights, they look completely devoid of ideas on attack and will struggle to keep up with the pace if the Eels click up another gear or two in the second half. Completion rates: Knights 15/20, Eels 18/25 Missed tackles: Knights 17, Eels 5
The second half is underway ...
42 min: TRY - Eels Tim Smith scores under the posts for the Eels, but unfortunately the movement featured a blatant forward pass that wasn't picked up by the officials. John Morris kicks another conversion. Knights 0 Eels 26
46 min: The Eels are starting to throw the ball around a lot more now as the Knights look increasingly shaky.
52 min: The Eels butcher a try after Milton Thaiday fumbles a bomb, but John Morris spills the ball just short of the tryline.
57 min: Matt Petersen makes a 60-metre break from his own goal-line before being caught in a great covering tackle from Milton Thaiday.
62 min: TRY - Eels Dean Widders crosses for his second try tonight following a great passage of quick passing by the Eels. Mark Riddell is back on the field, and adds the extras. Knights 0 Eels 32
70 min: TRY - Eels Glenn Morrison adds to the Knights woes with a try out wide after a good break up the middle from Mark Riddell. Riddell's conversion is successful. Knights 0 Eels 38
74 min: TRY - Eels P.J Marsh slides across under the posts for his second of the night. Adam Peek threw a great dummy pass to make the initial break. Mark Riddell kicks another two points as the rain begins to fall in Newcastle. Knights 0 Eels 44
79 min: TRY - Eels Daniel Wagon scores a try; but meanwhile, a local moron with a can of booze in his hand has taken to the field and tried to do some tackling for himself. Another conversion for Riddell. Knights 0 Eels 50
FULL TIME: Knights 0 Eels 50 The Eels have powered ahead in the second half to inflict a record-equalling scoreline against the Knights, and will take enormous satisfaction out of holding their opposition scoreless as well.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Riddell (Eels) 2 - T Smith (Eels) 1 - P.J Marsh (Eels) -----------------------------------------