Parramatta has left Newcastle’s NRL finals hopes hanging by a thread after surviving a second-half onslaught to claim a 20-14 victory.
The Eels looked headed for a cruisy win on Saturday evening when they cantered to an 8-2 lead after 43 minutes without breaking a sweat.
But the Bankwest Stadium crowd of 20,671 were left stunned after the visitors burst to life and scored twice in seven minutes.
However, the Eels responded with two tries of their own, the second coming via winger Maika Sivo’s touchdown of a Dylan Brown grubber.
It was a special touchdown for the league’s leading tryscorer, who claimed his 16th four-pointer of the year with dad Joeli in the stands for his first NRL game.
The Knights pushed hard to steal the points at the death but eventually fell short to slump to their sixth-straight defeat.
With four games remaining in the regular season, Nathan Brown’s men are three points outside the top eight in 12th spot.
Brown was pleased with his team’s defensive courage in the first half, but bemoaned a seventh defeat of less than 10 points this year.
“When the game became a real tight part of the game, the last 15 minutes when we’re behind on the scoreboard, we just didn’t know how to get it done,” he said.
“That’s as a group. It’s not a one-player thing – as a group.”
The Eels join Manly on 26 points but stay in sixth on points differential.
St George break losing streak against Gold Coast
St George Illawarra has likely consigned Gold Coast to the NRL wooden spoon with a drought-breaking, face-saving 40-28 win over the Titans.
It wasn’t always pretty but the Dragons snapped a five-game losing streak to drag themselves six competition points clear of the Titans with four rounds remaining.
Due to face the Titans again on the Gold Coast in next month’s final round, the Dragons had themselves been in danger of collecting their first spoon.
But Red V fans can breathe easier after Paul McGregor’s struggling side celebrated James Graham’s 400th top-level game with a seven-tries-to-five victory on Saturday at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
But while it was Graham’s milestone match, it was another Englishman and St George Illawarra’s four State of Origin stars who stole the show.
Skipper Gareth Widdop, in only his third game back from four months out with a shoulder injury, had a hand or boot in four of their tries and slotted six goals from seven attempts.
Origin reps Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Ben Hunt and Tariq Sims, who bagged a double, all crossed for tries as the Dragons ran away with the game after only leading 18-12 at halftime.
But, sadly, the lowest Kogarah crowd in the joint venture’s 20-year history – a paltry 6532 fans – turned out as the Dragons put the Titans to the sword with a 15-minute second-half point-scoring blitz.
The Titans still had hope after winger Phillip Sami finished off an entertaining try featuring 10 sets of hands with half-an-hour remaining.
But the Dragons’ sixth strike, via Euan Aitken in the 58th minute, put the issue beyond doubt as further tries to Sami and Ryley Jacks merely proved consolations for the Titans.
After being trounced 58-6 last week by the Sydney Roosters, the Titans have leaked 98 points in their past two outings and remain four points adrift of the resurgent Canterbury seemingly destined to finish last.
Compounding Gold Coast’s woes was having two players placed on report, with Tyrone Peachey in strife for a suspect second-half tackle on Korbin Sims and centre Brian Kelly booked for going high on Patrick Kaufusi.