Newcastle continued their giant-killing run at home to rip Parramatta’s finals fate out of their own hands with a 42-12 thumping at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Needing wins in their final two games to guarantee a place in the top eight, the Eels led 12-8 at halftime but were blown away in the second half by the 14th-placed Knights who scored six unanswered tries.
Newcastle took the lead in the 50th minute when five-eighth Jarrod Mullen went through flimsy defence to run 20 metres and score.
It sparked a five-try blitz from the hosts in the space of 16 minutes as they added the Eels to the Warriors, Storm and Roosters as recent victims at Hunter Stadium.
Winger Chanel Mata’utia grabbed a hat-trick of tries (53rd, 60th and 79th minutes), with Beau Scott (64th minute) and Joey Leilua (66th) also exposing woeful Eels defence in front of a crowd of 18,558.
The loss leaves Parramatta needing to beat Canberra next Saturday and have other results go their way to make the finals.
The teams went try for try in the first half as Chanel Mata’utia’s younger brother Sione scored a double for the home side.
The Eels started brightly when Will Hopoate scored in the fourth minute off an angled run from a Chris Sandow short ball.
However, Newcastle hit back to lead 8-6 after Sione Mata’utia was on the end of a blindside play from a scrum in the 17th minute before diving over in the corner with a one-handed put down in the 25th.
Parramatta were back in front in the 34th minute when another Sandow short-ball found its mark.
Second-rower Tepei Moeroa burst through the Knights defence 25 metres out and found the line despite losing a boot.
But it was the last highlight for the visitors, who also had forward Ben Smith put on report in the 78th minute for a crusher tackle on Chanel Mata’utia.