A plucky Newcastle have cast doubt on Canberra’s NRL title aspirations, condemning them to their third loss in a row.
The Raiders went into the match the overwhelming favourites, however four second-half tries saw the last-placed Knights record an emotional 34-20 victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
It was Nathan Brown’s side’s third win since the start of the 2016 season and snapped a seven-game losing streak.
After defeats to Manly and Canterbury, the men from the Australian capital have now lost three on the trot for the first time since late 2015.
They imploded in the second half, completing just six of 13 sets, making nine errors and missing 19 tackles.
The green machine came into the year highly fancied to build on their surprise 2016 success which saw them get within a game of the grand final.
However instead of working as a springboard for this year, coach Ricky Stuart said their run to last year’s finals was now counting against them as sides now knew what to expect from them.
“I said three or four weeks ago that we’re not going to come out and blow teams away like we did last year,” he said.
“That’s what everyone is expecting and everyone is thinking now ‘Why is it not happening?’
“Teams improve, teams prepare for you. We’ve got to be better than last year because teams are hunting us now too.
“Last year we were surprising a few teams. There was always going to be a tougher season this year. And it’s a very good education for a very young bunch.”
Meanwhile on Sunday, Parramatta playmaker and Queensland Origin aspirant Corey Norman suffered a worrying knee injury in his side’s 48-10 flogging at the hands of the Sydney Roosters.
Winger Blake Ferguson ran in three tries while Daniel Tupou collected a double as the Roosters jumped into third.
Manly also had salt rubbed into their wounds with Tom Trbojevic suffering a potentially season-ending ankle injury in their 24-14 loss to Brisbane on Saturday night.
The Gold Coast overcame the loss to Jarryd Hayne to score two tries in the final six minutes to beat Melbourne 38-36 in what was the Storm’s second loss of the season.
Penrith produced their second biggest ever comeback, overturning a 22-point half-time deficit to beat a hapless Warriors 36-28.
South Sydney hooker Robbie Farah made a strong case to retain his NSW Origin jumper with two try assists in their 28-8 victory over Wests Tigers.
Cronulla were lucky to escape with an 18-14 win over St George Illawarra on Friday night with a forward pass thrown by Ricky Leutele for Sosaia Feki’s important second-half try casting doubt on the result.
North Queensland shook off the absence of injured skipper Johnathan Thurston to thump Canterbury 30-14 on Thursday with Michael Morgan leading the way with four try assists and a four-pointer of his own.