A spirited defensive display has helped the Newcastle Knights win back-to-back matches with an impressive 16-10 over the Parramatta Eels at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.
Led by their best overall team performance of the year, the Knights showcased a heap of courage to repeatedly repel a rampaging Eels side on home turf.
Fullback Darius Boyd was a standout for the men in red and blue with a try and great cover at the back, while forward Beau Scott was brilliant in defence with a number of big tackles.
The Knights led 16-6 at halftime and held on in the second half to record just their fourth win for the 2014 season.
Newcastle's gutsy victory moves them up 14th position on the competition ladder after 16 rounds. The team has the bye next weekend, before taking on the Sharks in Cronulla on Sunday, July 13.
The Knights made a number of changes prior to kick-off.
Travis Waddell replaced Adam Clydsdale (knee) at hooker, while Kade Snowden was named to start in prop with David Fa’alogo out with a back injury.
The away side stood out in their distinctive fluro orange mining jerseys and came out firing in the opening exchanges.
This allowed Newcastle to open the scoring after just six minutes through winger Aku Uate.
Uate finished off a slick backline movement involving three sets of hands to score.
Skipper Kurt Gidley missed the conversion from the sideline, but it was the away side with an early 4-0 lead.
Parramatta hit back just two minutes later when star fullback Jarryd Hayne beat three defenders to race 70 metres and score under the posts.
Halfback Chris Sandow added the extras from in front to put the Eels in front 6-4 after 10 minutes.
Parramatta ran with plenty of vigour in the opening stages, forcing the Knights to regularly muscle up in defence.
While the men in red and blue had plenty of tackling to do, this didn’t stop them from playing expansive footy when they had the ball.
Parramatta was equally as potent in attack led by Hayne, but the Knights’ defence held on under the pressure.
Newcastle had a great chance to score after 27 minutes after a scrum from 20 metres out, but winger James McManus failed to hold the ball.
A Corey Norman kick out on the full gave the Knights another shot after 30 minutes and they made the Eels pay with a try to centre Joey Leilua.
The Samoan World Cup representative leapt high to collect a perfectly placed Jarrod Mullen kick and score.
Gidley converted to give the Knights a 10-6 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
Newcastle extended their lead after 35 minutes following a special solo try from fullback Darius Boyd.
Boyd collected a Parramatta bomb on his own line, before racing 90 slashing metres to score.
Gidley converted to give the Knights a handy 16-6 advantage at the halftime break.
Parramatta came out firing in the second half, obviously keen to make amends for being behind on the scoreboard.
The Eels received a great chance to cross just six minutes into the half, but the Knights held on in defence.
Parramatta looked certain to score just minutes later, yet failed to convert when winger Vai Toutai knocked on.
The home side were starting to get their fair share of possession, but the Knights remained composed and muscled up in defence.
Newcastle had a try to Leilua disallowed after 56 minutes after the centre was ruled to be offside following a Mullen kick that also touched Gidley.
The Knights gifted Parramatta vital field position minutes later following a Dane Gagai mistake, but once again the Eels couldn't convert due to poor ball control.
Parramatta finally hit back after 69 minutes via a controversial try to winger Semi Radradra. Sandow missed the conversion and the Knights held onto a close 16-10 advantage with 10 minutes remaining.
Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen attempted shot at a field goal was touched after 74 minutes giving the away side great field position.
This advantage was short lived when the Eels regained territory from a short kick-off.
Parramatta had all the running, but the Knights' defence was brilliant on their own line and it was enough to get them home in a close one.
Newcastle Knights 16 (T: Uate, Leilua, Boyd; G: Gidley 2/3)
Parramatta Eels 10 (T: Hayne, Radradra, G: Sandow 1/2)