Parramatta Eels 10
Jarryd Hayne, Semi Radrada. Sandow 1/2.
Newcastle Knights 16
Akuila Uate, Joseph Leilua, Darius Boyd. Kurt Gidley 2/3.
The Knights grabbed their first back-to-back victories of the season with a thrilling 16-10 victory over Parramatta Eels at Pirtek Stadium. In front of 15.556 fans, the impressive road success moves Newcastle out of last place, ahead of Cronulla Sharks, and also dents the Eels’ chances of reaching the finals.
It was a real battle of the fullbacks between Eels’ Jarryd Hayne and Knights’ Darius Boyd, with both producing scintillating efforts to help their team. Hayne’s 90 metre individual score from a kick return in the eighth minute made it 6-4 to Parramatta, but Boyd hit back with a wonderful moment of his own later in the game which outshone his opposite number.
Knights’ opening try saw Boyd whip a long ball to centre Joseph Leilua, whose good work resulted in Akuila Uate scoring his seventh try in five games.
Boyd then stepped into the limelight. The Knights man has been criticised for his performances at the start of the season, as Newcastle slumped to seven straight losses, but he was outstanding against Eels. His try saw him scoop up a kick, slice through the defense and run 95 metres for the score.
Leilua’s try 10 minutes before the break, after he benefited from a mistake on the goal line by Paramatta centre Ryan Morgan, saw the Knights go ahead 16-6 at the interval.
In the second half, Parramatta piled on the pressure, but their poor execution let them down. Vai Toutai and Morgan both dropped the ball in try-scoring positions, as the Eels slipped to consecutive losses.
With 11 minutes to go, Eels were awarded a controversial penalty try to Semi Radrada. It appeared that Knights defender Dane Gagai was held by Eels forward Ken Edwards, but video referee Steve Clark ruled that the pair had hold of each other and awarded the decision.
It was backs against the wall time for Knights, as Pauli Pauli rampaged forward for Parramatta only to be cut down by a brilliant try-saving tackle from Boyd. Back-to-back wins against good opposition for Knights will give them confidence ahead of the remainder of the season, where they will be looking to edge up the table.
Parramatta’s first defeat at the Pirtek Stadium this year was compounded with front-rower Junior Paulo placed on report for a swinging arm.