Sea Eagles v Knights: Five key points
Newcastle's woeful record at Lottoland continued after the Knights fell 18-14 to the Sea Eagles in atrocious conditions on Friday night, but the result could have been very different had the Bunker been called upon to rule on a Manly try midway through the second half.
Crucial call cruels the Knights
Knights fans will feel aggrieved after a crucial call went against them in the 59th minute that saw Akuila Uate awarded a try despite replays showing that he clearly lost the ball in the process of scoring. To the naked eye it looked like he had put the ball down cleanly, but it didn't take long for people to realise that the Sea Eagles winger had in fact lost possession of the ball which should have led to a seven-tackle set for the visitors. It didn't seem like much at the time given most people expected Manly to go on with the job, but a late try to Danny Levi cut the gap to just four points and will leave many Newcastle fans wondering what could have been had some luck gone their way.
Hats off to loyal fans
Spare a thought for the 4,189 brave souls who ignored monsoonal conditions to make the trip to Sydney's northern beaches for the 20-year anniversary of the 1997 grand final. The recent wild weather looked to have passed with blue skies warming Sydneysiders for most of Friday before the heavens opened half an hour before kick-off to put a dampener on what would have been a fairly open contest between two sides who like to move the football. It wasn't quite the Sharknado of a few years ago that wreaked havoc in the Shire, but the constant downpours made the sofa the best place in the world to watch the bitter rivals do battle. They might be hard to track down, but the Sea Eagles should offer discounted memberships or at least a free hot chocolate to the fans who spent 80 minutes getting soaked on the hill while the rest of us stayed warm at home.
Tom Trbojevic makes successful return
It's not often a player's jersey number is higher than their age, but what a sight it was to see Tom Trbojevic make his return for the Sea Eagles with the No.21 on his back. There were fears the electrifying fullback would miss the rest of the season after he landed awkwardly in a mid-air tackle against the Broncos in Round 10, but remarkably the 20-year-old ran out against the Knights having been sidelined for just two matches with knee and ankle injuries. There were some clear signs of rust with Trbojevic spilling a regulation bomb and caught slightly out of position for Newcastle's first try, but the good far outweighed the bad as 'Tommy Turbo' made a successful return with 113 metres. Everyone held their breath when he started hobbling after an awkward tackle in the 50th minute but Trbojevic soldiered on and was able to finish the game but it probably won't be enough to force his way into the Blues side for Game Two on June 21.
Feeney breaks his drought
If Knights halfback Jaelen Feeney was ever going to break his try-scoring drought then it simply had to be at a sodden Lottoland on Friday night. The highly-touted playmaker had gone 10 games without crossing the stripe but came up trumps against Manly with a fortuitous four-pointer late in the first half. Feeney's grubber was trapped by Frank Winterstein's foot, only for the young Knight to inadvertently toe the ball through as he chased the original kick. Luck was on his side as the ball plugged in the in-goal allowing him to cross for his side's first try of the night after he had earlier denied Matthew Wright a certain four-pointer at the other end.
Uate sends friendly reminder to former employers
Whoever writes rugby league scripts is doing a very good job. Playing his first game against the Knights for whom he scored a club-record 110 tries, Sea Eagles winger Akuila Uate came back to haunt his former employers with the evening's first try. Barely a minute after opposing number Nathan Ross had been forced from the field for an HIA test, Uate took advantage of the defensive reshuffle to slide over for his eighth try in Manly colours in a cruel blow to the Knights who are still paying a portion of his wages. Just for good measure, Uate doubled his tally with another powerful finish midway through the second half, although Newcastle fans will be up in arms after replays showed the Fijian flyer clearly lost the ball.