Knights slay sorry Sea Eagles 32-14 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights slay sorry Sea Eagles 32-14

By Ian Mccullough 02/08/2010 10:11:29 PM Comments (0)

It may well come too late to secure a finals spot, but Newcastle produced their best performance of the season to beat in-form Manly 32-14 at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Monday.

A first-half hat-trick from the NRL's leading tryscorer Akuila Uate laid the foundations for the win as the Knights, who started the night in 13th spot on the ladder, bounced back from the previous week's 28-24 loss to North Queensland.

In a near flawless opening stanza that saw them complete 16 of their 17 sets, the Knights warmed up the crowd of 14,627 with a sizzling performance in the driving rain, with Jarrod Mullen and Kurt Gidley in outstanding form.

The Knights crossed twice in the opening six minutes when Junior Sa'u burrowed over from close range before Uate outjumped the statuesque Steve Matai to grab a Mullen bomb.

Manly, who had scored 86 points in their previous two matches, got themselves on the scoresheet in the 13th minute when Ben Farrar darted over for a try, but it was to be the only high point of the half as Rick Stone's men took control.

Mullen, who has struggled for consistency this season, showed some flashes of the form that earned him a NSW call-up three years ago and was once again the inspiration for his side's third try.

The 23-year-old playmaker produced a lovely cut-out pass to Adam MacDougall, who rolled back the years with a sweet sidestep, then offloaded to Uate, who bullied his way to the line.

Uate then made it 20 for the year on the stroke of half-time when he outran teammate MacDougall to latch onto Gidley's well-weighted grubber kick to give his side a 24-4 lead at the break.

Gidley's second penalty nudged the Knights further in front shortly after the interval, but Manly refused to lie down with a spirited showing in the second period.

Tony Williams slid over in the 56th minute and young halfback Trent Hodkinson (69) scored with a good individual try to make it a nervous final 10 minutes for the home crowd.

However, Mullen made the game safe when he pounced on a loose ball and raced 80 metres to score under the posts late in the game.

Knights coach Rick Stone said his side's first-half display was the best of the year and a sign that they are better than their position on the table suggests.

"Sometimes this season we have taken two steps forward and one step back at times, but we are still evolving and tonight was hopefully a benchmark of where we should be in terms of execution and what we can bring when our minds are on the job," Stone said.

"That first half was as good as we have played this year in attack ... not everything went to plan in the second half, but the belief and the desire was there tonight and it showed when it counted." Manly coach Des Hasler conceded his side were the poorer team and never recovered from their sluggish start.

"There's no excuses, they competed harder around the ruck, and although we started poorly we still gave ourselves a chance, but it wasn't our night and I am not happy that we gave up 32 points," he said.

Hasler also revealed fullback Farrer, who went off midway through the second half, has a knee ligament injury and will find out on Tuesday whether it will rule him out for the latter part of the season.

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