The Newcastle Knights went down 36-16 to the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon.
While the Knights won the second half with three late tries, it was too little too late and the team will be looking to regroup ahead of four matches in a row at home starting next Saturday.
There was an early scare for the Knights when Manly earned a repeat set 20 metres out from the line. The red and blues hung on well in defence in the following set, but several minutes later Manly were over when winger Jorge Taufua found plenty of space out wide.
Some poor kicks from the Knights and some desperate defence from Manly in the following ten minutes saw the Novocastrians pinned down in their own half, and it didn’t take long for Manly to get over the line again. This time it was Brayden Williame that got the four points, and Apisai Koroisau missed his conversion to keep the score at 8-0.
Six minutes later Manly were over again, halfback Daly Cherry-Evans put Jamie Buhrer through a hole 20 metres out. Dylan Walker converted this time, and to make matters worse for the Knights David Bhana was forced from the field with an ankle injury.
Ten minutes before half time some Mamo magic gave the Knights their first attacking opportunity when he made a break down the right edge. While his pass didn’t find the mark, Jake Trbojevic knocked on to give the Knights another go.
At the end of the set Danny Levi put through a short grubber that Jeremy Smith doggedly chased down, and it looked as though he could have scored when he beat the Manly defence to it. The video bunker ruled that he knocked it on though, and the Knights were left pointless.
The favourable calls kept coming for Manly as the Knights were ruled to strip the ball soon after. In the following set Williame got his second from a Cherry-Evans grubber, and then two minutes before half time Tom Trbojevic burst through the middle to give Josh Starling an easy try beneath the uprights.
It was much the same at the start of the second half, Walker skipping over from dummy-half on the right edge.
With 49 minutes played it was Manly winger Matthew Wright that scored, taking advantage of superior numbers on the right edge to dive over untouched and make the score 36-0.
It looked as though Taufua might have grabbed his second on the opposite wing soon after, but he lost control of the ball over the line. Mamo scooped it up to dash away, and it looked as though he could make a clean break through the home side’s defence until he brought down 30 metres out.
The Knights finally scored their first points with 23 minutes to play, Pete Mata’utia doing well to collect a fast grubber from Trent Hodkinson and dive over the line. Hodkinson added the extras from out wide, and 17 minutes later the Knights looked as though they might have scored again when Mamo picked up a ricocheting ball to get over the line.
The referee ruled that he had received a forward pass though, and the Knights were denied their second try of the match.
Soon after Bhana returned to the field, and he almost immediately scored his first NRL try when he received a short ball beneath the uprights. Hodkinson converted, but the Knights weren’t done quite yet.
With less than five second left on the clock Dane Gagai made a break down the right side, and offloaded for Brendan Elliot to score in the corner. Gagai went for the conversion in game 100 but missed, the final score 36-16.
Newcastle Knights 16 (T: Peter Mata’utia, Bhana, Elliot, G: Hodkinson 2/2, Gagai 0/1)
Manly Sea Eagles 36 (T: Wiliame 2, Taufua, Buhrer, Walker, Wright, G: Koroisau 0/2, Walker 3/4)