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Gallant Knights bow out of 2021 season

The curtain has been drawn on the nib Newcastle Knights season, with the Novocastrians downed 28-20 by Parramatta.

With everything to play for, the 5000-plus crowd in regional Queensland treated to a brutal sudden death game that went down to the wire.

The match was ultimately decided by a controversial penalty try, with the drama-fuelled finish sure to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Knights fans everywhere.

Ultimately, the Bunker ruled Enari Tuala denied Will Penisini a certain try at the death.

Physicality was the name of the game, with both packs ripping in with some massive hits from both sides.

Played in front of a sold out crowd in Rockhampton, the game started dramatically with Clint Gutherson's kick off sailing out on the full.

Just a minute later, Enari Tuala was over for opening points.

Parramatta steadied after their horror start, with Waqa Blake hitting back just 10 minutes later after a slick move on the left edge.

Ponga fires a pass to Tuala for the opener

Warming into the contest, the Eels muscled up in defence and pulled off some huge hits as the Knights set up camp in their own red zone.

The Knights were forced to toil through some hard yakka for a solid ten minute period, with a focus on high completion rates and solid kicking.

The Knights enjoyed just 42% of the ball in the first half, despite completing at 100% with 19/19 sets.

The breakthrough soon came, with a late shot on Conner Watson gifting the Knights a relieving penalty.

They took full advantage, with Hymel Hunt crossing in the opposite corner to Tuala, giving the Knights the lead back.

Hunt dances his way over when he steps back inside

Then, again, the game turned.

A set re-start late in the count gave the Eels a surge of momentum, which they promptly turned into points.

Mitch Moses crossed first nearly straight away, scoring a scintillating solo try by brushing past some feeble attempted tackles.

Blake Ferguson added another four points with the final play of the half to give the Eels a 16-10 lead at the change of ends.

It wasn't a lack of effort or attention to detail with the footy that had the Knights on the back foot.

Missed tackles were instead the main concern for Adam O'Brien, with the Knights missing ten more than their rivals in the opening half.

The wingers, Ferguson and Tuala, both added tries immediately after the break to set up the grandstand final half hour.

With six points in it and time beginning to run down, the big players began to stand up and be counted.

Enter Ponga.

Ponga delivers just when the Knights need him

The No.1 sent a bullet pass to Tuala, who hit the ball at pace and crossed for his hat trick, bringing the Knights within two points.

Both sides were full of effort in the closing stages, and despite throwing everything at the Eels, the Knights just couldn't find a way through.

The penalty try was the final nail in the coffin, ending the Knights season in the process.

The Eels will now face Penrith in another sudden death match next weekend.