The nib Newcastle Knights were defeated 26-6 by the Parramatta Eels in their trial match at Maitland’s No.1 Sportsground on Saturday night.
It was a close encounter coming into half time with some impressive defence by both sides, but the Eels ran away with it in the second half, as Bevan French proved too deadly out wide.
The Knights were the first to get on the board with a pin-point pass out wide from Mitchell Pearce to Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who dived over in the right corner. Accuracy from the side line rewarded Kalyn Ponga the conversion. The Knights led 6-0.
Some precise passing out wide reached Eels winger Josh Hoffman for the visitors' first points. Mitchell Moses missed the conversion to see the Knights retain the lead, 6-4.
Strong defence from the Knights forced a loose carry, and kept the Eels pegged on their own try line on several occasions.
A quick pass from Corey Norman out wide gave Kirisome Auva’a his opportunity to sprint to the line and cross over for the points. The Eels took back the lead, 8-6.
Minutes later Parramatta extended their lead further with some fancy footwork from French. Moses again couldn’t convert as the Eels strengthened their lead, 12-6, into the half time break.
In the second stanza French quickly reached the line for the Eels but it was pulled back by the referee for obstruction, before up the other end the same call, as Kenny-Dowall ran over after a high kick from Pearce but it was deemed a no try. The score remained 12-6 to the Eels.
Soon after French was again left alone out wide and made the most of it, as he dived over under pressure in the right corner for the double. Despite another missed conversion, the Eels extended their lead, 16-6.
Parramatta continued to find holes in the Knights' defence as Moses side stepped his way to the line under the posts and this time didn’t miss the kick, as the number seven converted his own try. It was 22-6 to the Eels.
Minutes later a clever run by the visitors guided a speedy Michael Jennings to the line to secure a 20-point lead over the Knights.
There was glimmer of hope when Tautau Moga broke free 30 metres from the line but there was too much heat on his pass to Nick Meaney out wide and the Eels got it back.
With five minutes left, a 40-20 got the Eels close to the try line but it was end to end football in the last few minutes to see the Eels secure a 26-6 win over the home side.
Knights 6 (T: Kenny-Dowall, G: Ponga 1/1)
Eels 26 (T: Hoffman, Auva’a, French 2, Moses, Jennings, G: Moses 1/5, Norman 0/1)
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Tautau Moga, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Slade Griffin, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Aidan Guerra, 13. Herman Ese’ese. Interchange: 14. Danny Levi, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jamie Buhrer, 17. Jacob Saifiti, 18. Ken Sio, 19. Josh King, 20. Brock Lamb, 21. Sam Stone, 22. Nick Meaney, 23. Luke Yates, 24. Jack Cogger, 25. Brodie Jones, 26. Cory Denniss.