Uate's four helps Knights reach NRL finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Uate's four helps Knights reach NRL finals

David Beniuk 02/09/2011 11:05:27 PM Comments (0)

Four tries from Akuila Uate helped Newcastle claim eighth place on the NRL ladder despite a second half fright in their 40-24 win over South Sydney at Ausgrid Stadium on Friday night.

The NSW winger bagged two as the Knights piled on a 30-6 halftime lead and doubled his tally with trademark devastating runs to the line to help his side into the playoffs beginning next weekend.

In the process he equalled the club record for tries in a single match.

The virtual elimination final was one of the most anticipated games of the year, but it took Souths until well into the second half to wake up and make the ground record 30,729 fans nervous at 10 points behind with seven minutes left.

The Knights' second-half fadeout will be a big concern but Rick Stone's side cannot realistically miss the finals, with Canterbury needing to beat Canberra by a virtually impossible 90 points on Sunday to pip them on points differential.

Newcastle are likely to travel to Melbourne next weekend for a qualifying final against the Storm at AAMI Park, although unexpected results could deliver Manly the minor premiership on Sunday.

As well as Uate, Isaac De Gois, Antonio Kaufusi and Chris Houston also scored tries, Kurt Gidley booted five from six and retiring centre Adam MacDougall one from one.

For Souths, Nathan Merritt scored two with Shaun Corrigan and Chris McQueen also scoring four-pointers and Chris Sandow kicking four from four.

Newcastle snapped a worrying late season three-match losing streak to ensure coach Stone enjoys a finals experience before becoming Wayne Bennett's assistant next season.

The Rabbitohs' year had begun promisingly with the signing of Test centre Greg Inglis but he was among a host of big names missing through injury on Friday night.

Souths missed the equivalent of a representative forward pack for most of the season and new coach Michael Maguire will also need to deal with the loss of standout halfback Sandow to Parramatta when he takes the reins for next season.

The Knights piled on five first-half tries on a wave of momentum before Uate's third made it 34-6 ten minutes after the break.

The Rabbitohs scored through Merritt six minutes later to make it 34-12 and when McQueen went over after an Issac Luke bust in the 64th minute, they had given themselves a sniff.

Merritt's second in the 73rd made it 34-24 before Uate picked up the scraps of a kick in the final minute and ran 95m for his fourth.

In a fitting last home game for 36-year-old MacDougall, the former Test back set up two of Uate's tries with clever offloads.

There was at least as much drama off the field as on it, with play stopped when an ambulance was required for a patron during the second half and police leading away two fans after a fight broke out in the western concourse.

Stone paid tribute to his winger Uate.

"He's come a long way in two years," the coach said.

"He realises his responsibilities in the team and he grasps that with both hands.

"He knows at times he needs to be the difference for his footy team and he scored a couple of great tries."

Souths captain Michael Crocker said the Knights had wanted it more, and departing coach John Lang was philosophical about the end of his season, and his reign at the club.

"There's 15 disappointed sides at the end of every season," Lang said.

"I would have loved to have made the finals, we didn't do it, we gave it our best shot, you can't do any more than that.

"If you kept winning premierships you might coach until you drop so it might be good for my health."

MacDougall said Newcastle would take some confidence from the win and throw everything they had at their ladder-leading opponents next week.

"It's going to be a massive challenge but at the end of the day if you want to progress any further in the finals you've got to get your dukes up and you've got to face the best," he said.

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