Knights make a statement to NRL finalists - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights make a statement to NRL finalists

By Ben Horne 31/07/2011 06:13:10 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle didn't just put one foot into the finals with a 50-20 smashing of the Gold Coast on Sunday, the Knights made a statement to rival teams that if they get that far they won't be there to simply make up the numbers.

The Knights attack was comfortably the worst of any top-eight side coming into the round, but after 80 minutes at Ausgrid Stadium they became the first NRL team in 2011 to break the half century mark.

A blistering nine-try demolition of the wooden-spoon bound Titans showed Newcastle don't intend on being cannon-fodder should they march on into the second week of September as is now expected.

Led by an Akuila Uate hat-trick, a James McManus double and a vintage display by veteran Adam MacDougall, the Knights put a four-point gap on their nearest chasers Penrith, Canterbury and South Sydney and eclipsed Wests Tigers on for and against to move into seventh place on the ladder.

Although the win was against inferior opposition, the Knights indicated that perhaps the Tigers and Warriors aren't the only sides who are going to make life difficult for the top teams when it comes to the crunch.

"There was an opportunity for us there to take advantage in the context of the competition and it was good to see we took that," said Knights coach Rick Stone.

"We haven't scored a lot of points for a while now and to score 50 today was important for our confidence.

"I think the boys enjoyed it and will get a little bit out of it ... but I know there's still a long way to go."

Stone praised the efforts of halfback Jarrod Mullen, who was expected to be ruled out before fighting his way through a rigorous fitness test on Saturday to have a hand in most of the Knights tries.

Newcastle's defence wasn't pretty at times, but captain Kurt Gidley admits that with Mullen and MacDougall back in the side and with the points flowing, the Knights appear to be peaking at the right time.

"I'd like to time it a bit earlier in the year to be in the eight but we're playing a bit better footy," Gidley said.

Gold Coast skipper Scott Prince scored a solo try shortly before halftime and the Titans were well in the contest, down 16-12 at the break.

But quick-fire tries to McManus and Cameron Ciraldo buried the visitors just five minutes after the resumption, and from there it was a procession - as MacDougall scored a try and set up Uate's third, before Keith Lulia and Neville Costigan brought up the milestone.

"It's been the same old story for us, especially the past three to four games," lamented Prince.

"We talk about what we want to do at halftime and opposition teams seem to lift another gear and they start the second half really well and we can't stick with them, that seems to be our main problem at the moment."

Titans centre William Zillman was unable to return after halftime due to an irregular heartbeat.

The problem is something Zillman has been diagnosed with before and he said post-match it wasn't detrimental to his health and career and he's likely to play next week.

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