NRL: Win keeps Knights in playoff

By Dale Budge

The Knights celebrate a McMaunus try. Photo / Getty Images
The Knights celebrate a McMaunus try. Photo / Getty Images

Eels 12
Knights 20

Back-to-back wins in less than a week has seen the Newcastle Knights roar back into finals contention.

A 15-minute run to start the second half was enough to lift the Knights up to 11th on the NRL ladder and keep their slim playoff hopes alive after brushing aside the struggling Parramatta Eels.

Newcastle appear to have finally found some of the form the competition has been waiting all season to see, after it was announced super coach Wayne Bennett would move north to the Hunter Valley in the off-season. They put the cleaners through the Wests Tigers with some enterprising attack on Monday and carried that confidence into last night's performance at Parramatta.

Winger James McManus opened the scoring on the back of a couple of slick passes from the Knights in the lead-up.

Parramatta competed strongly in the first half - having the better of the match early on but failing to convert it into points. Halfback Chris Sandow took the line on early in the match, using his footwork and acceleration to create problems for the visitors, but he drifted out of the game.

A sniping run from the former Rabbitoh in the red zone put hooker Matthew Keating over the line to level the scores after 14 minutes and that's the way it stayed until halftime.

Former NSW State of Origin halfback Jarrod Mullen broke the deadlock just after the break, when he sliced through a couple of tackles to score and put the visitors back in front. The Knights went on a spree after that with Kevin Naiqama, filling in for Queensland Origin star Darius Boyd at fullback, and dumped NSW winger Akuila Uate adding tries shortly after.

The master got the points over the apprentice in the head-to-head coaches' battle. Knights mentor Bennett and Eels boss Stephen Kearney worked together with New Zealand in their successful 2008 World Cup campaign. On that occasion, Bennett was Kearney's mentor.

Speaking of mentors, the Eels this week confirmed former premiership winner and Australian test coach Chris Anderson as a mentor for Kearney at the struggling football club.

Kearney won a premiership as a player under Anderson at the Melbourne Storm in 1999 and the move comes as the Eels try to avoid the wooden spoon.

It also caps a busy week for the Eels, who signed Manly back-rower Daniel Harrison for 2013 as well as releasing experienced forward Shane Shackleton to the Penrith Panthers after his falling out with Kearney.

Eels 12 (M. Keating, K. Sio tries; L. Burt 2 gls), Knights 20 (J. McManus, J. Mullen, K. Naiqama, A. Uate tries; T Roberts 2 gls). HT: 6-6

- Herald on Sunday

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