Knights add to Manly's woes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights add to Manly's woes

By Adrian Warren 05/04/2009 07:36:02 PM Comments (0)

Manly coach Des Hasler promised his struggling side would "hang in there" after the dismal start to their NRL title defence continued with a 26-12 flogging by Newcastle at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

The Knights scored five tries to two and the margin of defeat was sufficient to send Manly to last spot on points difference below Canberra, the only other win-less team.

The Raiders face North Queensland on Monday night.

The Sea Eagles started well with centre Steve Matai crossing after six minutes for the first try.

However, Matai was forced off the field with a shoulder injury before the half hour and Newcastle ruthlessly exploited the visitors' rejigged backline defence.

Newcastle turned the match around with two quick tries just before halftime to forward Zeb Taia and centre Junior Sau.

Manly failed to capitalise on some early pressure and were held scoreless for over 70 minutes while Newcastle racked up 26 unanswered points.

Halfback Jarrod Mullen came off the bench after missing one game with a broken rib.

Together with starting halves Ben Rogers and Scott Dureau, captain and fullback Kurt Gidley and veteran centre Adam MacDougall expertly moving their troops around, Newcastle proved too efficient and clinical as they marked their home season debut with a win.

"We had a talk during the week and we want to make this home ground a fortress and we kicked off on the right foot today," Mullen said.

While Hasler said he expected to re-instate fullback Brett Stewart next week after his four-game suspension, he extracted few positives from his team's performance against Newcastle.

"I thought we didn't compete as well on the ground as what they did, but we stayed in it," Hasler said.

"Times are tough at the moment, this side has got plenty of character and I promise you we will hang in there.

"There's a long way to go."

Prop Brent Kite was equally defiant.

"Four losses isn't going to shake us, we know what we are capable of, we will be out next week to try and turn it around," Kite said.

Supportive words for Manly came from an unexpected source in opposing coach Brian Smith, whose genial demeanour wasn't even disturbed by a mobile phone blaring out Deep Purple standard Smoke On The Water during his press conference.

"I thought they (Manly) played like a really gallant group of players, they really turned the pressure on us in the first half," Smith said.

"I think everybody recognises Manly are a bit down on their luck at the moment.

"They are missing some key players, sometimes you can try too hard.

"I think they deserve plenty of praise for the way they went about their work today."

Smith said his team's victory was set up by their strong defence in the first 20 minutes.

Manly was unable to mount any substantial pressure in the second half during which wingers James McManus, Akuila Uate and Gidley scored tries.

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