Mitch Dransfield reviews the Sunday afternoon clash between the Knights and Eels in Newcastle. Here’s how the game went.
|16th||Try Ryan Matterson (Parramatta)||Parramatta 4-0|
|34th||Try Andrew McCullough (Newcastle)||Scores tied 4-4|
|59th||Penalty Goal Clint Gutherson (Parramatta)||Parramatta 6-4|
|64th||Try Maika Sivo (Parramatta)||Parramatta 10-4|
This top eight clash started with an error by Shaun Lane receiving the kick off, with the Knights straight on the attack. A short-side raid by Mitch Pearce on the left edge created space for their backs with a forced dropout the end result. Forward passes from the Knights in good territory allowed Parramatta to punch back, with Reed Mahoney forcing a goal-line dropout, then in the next set linking off an offload close to the line to put Ryan Matterson into a hole for the first try in the 16th minute.
The Eels continued to threaten the Newcastle try line for the next 10 minutes, with errors from both sides ruining any chances for points. Kalyn Ponga – after producing a dropout for his side – got axed by Waqa Blake which allowed another set for the Knights in the 34th minute, which saw hooker Andrew McCullough wriggle his way to a try after being held. Scores at the break were 4-4.
It was a strong opening from the Eels in the second half with Nathan Brown leading from the front, dominating the middle alongside Mahoney. Newcastle continued to have poor ball handling, with their opportunities with options in attack breaking down due to Parramatta’s resilient defence. A marker play by Mahoney was brought back after his scoring effort due to an incorrect play the ball, however it was a penalty to Eels: they converted to go up 6-4 in the 59th minute.
Soon after, Pearce gave away a penalty with a high tackle, but a quick tap by Clint Gutherson saw him sprint away untouched to link with Maika Sivo to score in the 64th minute, pulling down the Knights’ pants without them being ready: Parramatta were back in front 10-4. Ponga, with a last-ditch effort, grubbered to Tex Hoy with a try being awarded, until the Bunker overruled for Hoy being offside in the 77th minute.
The breaking point of the match was Gutherson taking advantage of the quick tap restart, after a Pearce high tackle in the 64th minute, with the Eels fullback breaking away to get his winger Sivo two-on-one against Ponga to score and lead by a converted try. It ended up being a huge heads-up play by the skipper to give the Eels breathing space and win the match.
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 18. Tautau Moga 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Herman Ese’ese. Interchange: 2. Tex Hoy 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Pasami Saulo 17. Brodie Jones.
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Jai Field 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown. Interchange: 14. David Gower 15. Stefano Utoikamanu 16. Marata Niukore 17. Brad Takairangi