Nigel Wall,, NRL.com
A first-half scoring blitz by the Sea Eagles set up a comfortable 42-20 victory over the Knights at Brookvale Oval in Round 24 last season.
Manly headed to the halftime sheds with a commanding 38-4 lead following a barrage of tries to Jamie Lyon (3rd minute), Glenn Stewart (6th minute), Tony Williams (17th minute), Kieran Foran (22nd minute), Williams again (27th minute) and Brett Stewart (a double in the 32nd and 36th minutes). Newcastle’s sole points came via Akuila Uate’s try in the 13th minute.
However, the rousing win came at a huge price, with Manly playing the final 36 minutes of the game without a fit bench player following injuries to Matt Ballin, Jason King, Jamie Buhrer and David Williams.
During that time the home side was outplayed by the Knights, who crossed for three tries, while the Sea Eagles managed just the one addition to their tally when winger Jorge Taufua crossed in the dying minutes.
The comprehensive defeat ensured the Knights would miss the 2012 finals series – leaving Wayne Bennett without a role to play beyond Round 26 for the first time in 21 years.
Missed tackles told a sorry story for the Knights, who tallied a whopping 52 throughout a long afternoon. Poor completions (61%) contributed to their downfall too, with the Sea Eagles managing to get through a whole seven more sets in possession.
Fullback Brett Stewart was a formidable force for Manly, scoring twice, making three line-breaks and a game-high 10 tackle-breaks, while lock Tony Williams chimed in with two tries, a try assist and eight line-breaks.
Opposition No.1 Darius Boyd had one of his best games in Newcastle colours, providing two line-breaks and two line-break assists as well as carving out 122 metres.