PREVIEW | Rick Edgerton looks ahead to tomorrow night's #Origin series opener at ANZ Stadium
104 mins ago
What a difference a week makes.
7 days after being annihilated 56-6 by the Sharks, the Newcastle Knights went to Parramatta Stadium to face the second placed Eels. They came away victorious after a 22-18 win which kept them in the top 8, in sixth position. The first half was a tight affair, with just two tries being scored, both to the Knights to have them going to half-time leading 12-0. Knights centre Leigh Abel scored his sides first try after 11 minutes after a perfect cut-out pass from half-back Luke Walsh found him on the chest as he went through a gap in the Eels defence. Walsh then converted from ten metres in from the western touchline and the Knights led 6-0. From then, the Parramatta defence tightened up, as did the Knights and both teams struggled to get over the halfway line. The Eels chances were few and far between, but in the 20th minute, half-back Chris Law went agonisingly close to levelling the scores, but desperate defence from the Knights kept their line in tact. A few minutes later, the Knights went 90 metres after back-to-back penalties helped them out of their own half. Again, a perfectly timed pass from Walsh found fullback Sam Wooden, who went past some lazy Parramatta defence on the inside and crossed under the posts. Walsh again added the extras and after defending grimly on their own line, the Knights led the second placed Eels 12-0 just before half-time. This remained the score as the sides went to the half-time break. The second half began much the same as the first half. Defence was the order of the day for both sides, but Parramatta were more expansive with their ball movement as they were trailing by 12-0. Just six minutes into the second half, that margin became 18 as Knights lock forward Mitchell Steel pounced on a perfectly weighted grubber kick into the in-goal from five-eight Scott Dureau. Walsh once again successfully converted and an upset was on the cards as the Knights led 18-0. The upset looked even more likely in the 47th minute, when Knights winger Stephen Gordon finished off a length of the field raid by the Knights. Centre Leigh Abel, who was causing havoc on the right hand side, raced 50 metres before finding Dureau, who found Walsh, who then spun the ball to the left. As the Eels were getting back on side, Alex McCosker from the Knights delivered the final pass for Gordon to score a few metres in from the western touchline. Walsh pushed the conversion wide, but the Knights were in control at 22-0. The Knights then looked to protect that lead, which then let the Eels back into the game. In the 53rd minute, Eels centre Kris Inu scored his sides first try of the afternoon after a deft pass from five-eight Blake Green. Green wasted no time with the conversion and the Eels trailed 22-6 with 15 minutes remaining. This appeared to awaken the Eels from their slumber as they appeared to run with more enthusiasm. 8 minutes from full-time, the Eels scored their second try of the match, when winger Gavin Cowan scored out wide. Again, Green added the extras from near the eastern touchline and the Knights lead had been trimmed to just 10. For the remaining 8 minutes, the Eels had plenty of possession and found themselves camped in the Newcastle half. Again, desperate defence from the Knights continued to deny the Eels, until just on full-time, fullback Michael Basan scored a consolation try which, after the conversion from Green, left the Eels suffering their second consecutive defeat.
For the Knights, Luke Walsh was a stand-out, having a hand in 3 of the 4 tries and kicking 3 goals from 4 attempts. Centre Leigh Abel was a handful out wide and fullback Sam Wooden was also very solid.