The NSW Cup Newcastle Knights defeated the Manly Sea Eagles 45-6 in a dominant display at Belmore Sports Ground in the first round of the finals.
In what was a re-match after the side's previous week’s loss to Manly, the Knights fought for redemption and will now progress to the second week of the finals against the Penrith Panthers at Kogarah on Sunday.
While a do-or-die attitude was shown from both teams from the outside, the first 15 minutes extracted errors from both sides. Newcastle’s defence was initially tested when Manly applied intense attacking pressure and speed through the middle.
Luckily, an intercept by Honeti Tuha was a turning point and gave the Knights a breather from Manly’s bombardment.
The tide then began to turn when Manly coughed up the football gifting the Knights a scrum feed 10 metres out.
Shortly after, Danny Levi finished a clever blind side movement to score the first try of the match.
The lead up play saw the Knights work the ball through Ken Tofilau and Chanel Mata’utia to the energetic hooker who grounded the ball safely behind the posts.
George Ndaira’s conversion was successful to see the Knights take an early 6-0.
Making the most of momentum, a short ball to a charging Luke Yates saw him slice Manly’s defence to score the side’s second try.
Kerrod Holland converted from in front to take the score to 12-0
Manly fired back soon after with a try to Manaia Rudolph that was swiftly converted by Kurt Aldridge taking the score to 12-6.
The Knights made the most of their time with the ball when Holland beat four defenders shattering the opposition’s defensive line. Holland then added the extras to his try putting the Knights ahead 18-6.
Danny Levi worked more of his magic when he drew the opposition before passing to Honeti Tuha who stepped inside and directed a neat ball to Holland to score just before half time.
Holland’s kick hooked away settling the score at 22-6 as the team headed to the half time break.
With the breeze in their favour returning from the break, the red and blue came out firing when Pat Mata’utia scored an inspirational 60 metre intercept try which was easily converted giving the Knights a 28-6 buffer.
With Manly’s confidence deflated, the Knights dominated in defence defusing a certain try from a fraught opponent.
The score was extended to 30-6 when the Knights opted for a penalty goal kicked by George Ndaira who played off the bench in the halves and at hooker throughout the semi final match.
The Knights built valuable field position after a penalty working the ball to Ken Tofilau who crossed the line before Holland added another penalty goal to the Knights’ tally.
Some lovely groundwork between Jaelen Feeney and Chanel Mata’utia resulted in a final Newcastle try scored by Jacob Saifiti which advanced the Knights’ lead to 44-6.
In a finishing touch to the convincing win, Jaelen Feeney punted a field goal on the fulltime siren contributing to the 45-6 triumph over Manly.
Newcastle Knights: 45 (T: Levi, Yates, Tofilau, Holland, P Mata'utia, Fitzgibbon, J Saifiti; G: Ndaira 2; P: 2, Holland 4, FG: Feeney)
Manly Sea Eagles: 6 (T: Rudolph; G: Aldridge 1/1)
1. Kerrod Holland, 2. Honeti Tuha, 3. Pat Mata'utia, 4. Chanel Mata'utia, 5. Ken Tofilau, 6. Carlos Tuimavave, 7. Jaelen Feeney, 8. Damien Sironen, 9. Danny Levi, 15. Michael Steele, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 27. Jacob Saifiti, 13. Luke Yates. Interchange: 12. Brett Jarrett, 14. George Ndaira, 10. Tama Koopu, 17. Ben Tupou, 19. Jayden Rosberg.
1. Dom Reardon, 2. Delroy Berryman, 11. Michael Chee Kam, 4. Tony Satini, 5. David Williams, 6. Jack Littlejohn, 7. Manaia Rudolph, 8. Siosaia Vave (c), 22. Hugh Pratt, 10. Tyson Andrews, 21. James Hasson, 12. Dylan Kelly, 13. Jordan Latham. Interchange: 9. Kurt Aldridge, 14. Cheyse Blair, 16. Uiti Baker, 18. Todd Wilson.