These clubs last met in Round 17 last year and the form lines were at best mixed for both clubs. The Eels were at least coming off a win but were still floundering in last place, while the Knights were also coming off a win that arrested a five-match losing streak.
Without an injured Jarryd Hayne the Eels went in outsiders and were soon playing like it as Knights winger James McManus helped Newcastle to a 6-0 lead in the opening five minutes – the Knights batted back an attacking high kick and some frantic offloading spun the ball across the park to McManus’ wing to catch the Eels short.
Maligned halfback Chris Sandow sparked the Eels into action 10 minutes later when a sharp darting run in front of the Knights’ goalposts split the defence and although he was brought down just short of the line his offload allowed Matt Keating to dive over untouched and level the scores.
The rest of the first half proved a mostly dour affair as the sides went to the break still locked at 6-all.
Mullen caught the Eels napping straight after the resumption, however, when his bumping run punched through several Eels defenders. It got worse for the Eels at the 50 minute mark when Kevin Naiqama went the length of the field on a kick return to make it 16-6.
It threatened to get ugly for the Eels shortly afterwards when a string of Knights passes allowed Akuila Uate to get one on one with opposite winger Ryan Morgan and barge over in the corner to make it 20-6.
Eels fans dared to dream of a comeback when Parramatta returned the favour, another long passing chain this time allowing Ken Sio to get outside his man to narrow the gap to eight with nine minutes to play, but that was as close as the Eels got despite launching several late attacking raids.