Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
108 mins ago
The Newcastle Knights opened their season in style on Saturday afternoon with a comprehensive 34-6 victory over the Parramatta Eels. The opening twenty minutes was spent in the Newcastle half of the field, with Parramatta having plenty of ball. It seemed it was only a matter of time before the Eels opened the scoring, however, a mixture of poor ball control and some impressive Knights goal-line defence held them out. In the 22nd minute, Knights five-eight Scott Dureau, re-signed by the club, after having interest from the Dragons, opened the Knights account with a superb individual effort, leaving Parramatta players grasping at thin air. Promising halfback Luke Walsh converted to give the Knights a 6-0 lead. Four minutes later, the Knights were in again, this time through man-mountain Larry Taufua who ran onto a Luke Walsh pass like a freight train and was never going to be stopped. Again Walsh added the extras to put the Knights up 12-0. That remained the score until the halftime break, with the Knights going close a few times from hungry kick-chase efforts, in particular by Fijian winger Akuila Uate, who showed plenty of speed. The Eels hung on to the break trailing by 12 points.
The Knights pushed their lead out further just three minutes into the second half when Jonathon Wright ran a perfect angled run into a space, courtesy of a superb ball from five-eight Dureau. Walsh continued with his perfect goal-kicking record for the day when he converted from wide out. Wright crossed for his second try of the afternoon just four minutes later, finishing off out wide from a perfect cut-out pass from halfback Walsh. Walsh missed his first attempt of the afternoon, but the Knights were well in control at 22-0. Parramatta second rower Trent Waicokacola scored his teams first and only try of the afternoon when he finished off a backline move, which started in their own half. Ben Farrar added the conversion to close the gap to 22-6, but that was as close as the Eels got. 16 minutes from fulltime, Simon Allen, coming off the bench for the Knights scored an opportunistic try for the home side after the ball went around like a pin-ball machine before landing in the Eels in-goal, requiring Allen to just touch down. Walsh added the conversion to extend the Knights lead. Young winger Uate finished the scoring for the Knights, and topped off a good game by crossing with just four minutes left. Again Walsh added the extras to give the Knights their first win of the year, 34-6 over Parramatta.
For the Knights, halves Dureau and Walsh were outstanding. They were given the time and space by a dominant forward display. Larry Taufua and Cory Patterson were impressive for the Knights in the forwards, as was Terrence Seu Seu out of dummy half.