Knights thrash Eels 32-12 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights thrash Eels 32-12

By Philip Henderson 04/08/2008 10:57:47 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle have moved into the NRL top eight after marking Brian Smith's 500th first grade game as coach with a 32-12 hammering over a lacklustre Parramatta at EnergyAustralia Stadium in Newcastle.

The Knights ensured an unhappy homecoming for former mentor Michael Hagan as they ran in the opening four tries and hardly looked threatened in a match both teams needed to win to keep pace in the race for the finals.

The 20-point margin saw the Knights jump four spots on the ladder to depose the Wests Tigers from eighth place, while delivering a serious blow to the finals aspirations of the struggling Eels, who remain two points behind a logjam of five teams tied for eighth on 22 points.

Adding injury to insult, Parramatta fullback Luke Burt left the field in serious discomfort midway through the first half and did not return. He will undergo scans on Wednesday on a rib cartilage injury.

More of a worry, though, for Eels coach Hagan will be the performance of the rest of his team.

Feleti Mateo made his return after a two-week knee injury absence, but even with their five-eighth back the Eels struggled to mount much of a challenge against the Knights.

From the outset, Parramatta looked a step off the pace, with the Knights taking advantage to race to a 20-0 lead on the back of first-half tries to Chris Houston, James McManus, Adam MacDougall and Mark Tafua.

The visitors reduced the gap to 20-6 two minutes from halftime when winger Joel Reddy crossed out wide, but a penalty goal and try to centre Junior Sau in the first 15 minutes of the second half practically sealed the result for the Knights.

It gave Smith victory in his 500th game against the club he coached for nearly a decade.

The win was also Newcastle's second over Parramatta in their three meetings since the great coach swap of 2007 - when Smith went from the Eels to the Knights, and Hagan from the Knights to the Eels.

There was bad news, though, for the Knights, with lock Zeb Taia suffering a knee injury which could see him miss 5-6 weeks, possibly ruling him out for the season.

Smith was pleased to be able mark his 500th game with a victory, but was quick to warn against getting carried away with both the win or the fact his team were now in the eight - even going as far to say his team's form was "fragile".

"I'm a bit cautious about that (being in the eight), I just think you can get too excited because you get absolutely no prize whatsoever for being in the eight after 21 rounds," the coach said.

"I don't think we were totally dominant, I think we lost our way a few times, but we did enough to win.

"It was a memorable game for me because of the occasion and it was nice for the club because we're up there in the eight, but it won't go down in history as one of the exciting games as far as quality was concerned."

While refusing to write off their finals hopes, Eels skipper Nathan Cayless admitted his side had to lift their game - and quickly - to have any chance of playing in September.

"I think we have to play a lot better if we want to keep our season alive," Cayless said.

Hagan said: "We knew that if the team lost (tonight) it would make it a lot harder for them, but it still doesn't make it insurmountable (to make the finals)."

As for his return to Newcastle, Hagan admitted it wasn't ideal.

"But in the end you don't get to write those scripts either," said Hagan, who coached the Knights for six years.

Hagan said Burt would be unlikely to play Sunday against the Sydney Roosters

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