Knights cruise to win over injury-wrecked Eels
The Knights have snapped a four-game losing streak but Parramatta's disastrous season has lurched further into crisis following a convincing 30-4 loss to Newcastle at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The Eels are set to lose halfback Mitch Moses for an extended period with a knee injury and Tepai Moeroa to suspension due to a shoulder charge, following a match in which they also lost fullback Bevan French to concussion in just the third minute.
Already missing a host of stars to injury including five-eighth Corey Norman, the Eels looked rudderless having lost two of their remaining four playmakers by the 25th minute of the contest.
When Peni Terepo was hit high and taken for an HIA 15 minutes from time and replacement fullback Will Smith forces off with a hamstring strain with 10 minutes to go the Eels were left with no fit players on the bench.
Despite the standard of their opposition, the Knights were highly impressive in hitting back from what was their biggest loss of the season last week against Cronulla.
They convincingly won the battle through the middle on the back of powerful stints from the likes of Daniel Saifiti, Aidan Guerra and Mitch Barnett.
Young half Jack Cogger produced one of the best games of his young career and electric fullback Kalyn Ponga recovered from his only quiet game of the year to help create plenty of chances and points for the blue and reds.
The result keeps the Eels mired to the foot of the Telstra Premiership ladder with just two wins from 13 games.
The misery started early for the Eels when French was concussed in just the third minute. Attempting to stop Ponga from scoring on a grubber, French collected Ponga's head flush on the jaw as both went for the ball and was assisted from the field in a dazed state.
With bench utility Will Smith forced into the custodian role the Eels backs allowed a bomb to bounce in the 14th minute and Knights half Jack Cogger burst onto the loose ball to score.
The Eels had looked to right the ship with a series of penalties in the Knights' red zone – enough for the officials to place Newcastle on an official warning – but after the third straight penalty Moses knocked on attempting to clean up a loose ball and had his knee hyperextended under a Newcastle player in the process and immediately cried out in agony before eventually being taken from the field.
The second reshuffle saw Manu Ma'u pushed into the centres, Brad Takairangi to five-eighth and Clint Gutherson to halfback.
The Knights curiously opted for a penalty goal in the 28th minute despite looking to have the injury-ravaged Eels on the rack but were still able to press their advantage before half time.
Match: Eels vs Knights
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
With the Knights attacking four minutes out from the break, Michael Jennings was sin-binned for a professional foul for taking out Lachlan Fitzgibbon off the ball. The Eels cracked barely second after the ensuing penalty when Sione Mata'utia crashed through Jennings' zone on the Eels right edge to have the Knights a 14-0 half time advantage.
The Eels made it through to Jennings' return from the sin-bin without further damage but were cracked just two minutes after his return when Smith couldn't control a Ponga grubber and Ken Sio pounced for a 20-0 score-line.
Daniel Saifiti crashed through some flimsy goal-line defence for a well-earned try in the 55th minute and Connor Watson went over almost untouched from a sharp show-and-go in the 68th for a convincing 30-0 margin.
Josh Hoffman averted the ignominy of a defeat to nil with a consolation try five minutes from time.
News & Notes... Eels lost fullback Bevan French to concussion in just the third minute and halfback Mitch Moses to a knee injury in the 25th, reducing them to a two-man bench and using up two interchanges… further injuries to Peni Terepo (concussion, 65th minute) and Will Smith (hamstring, 69th minute) left the Eels with no fit players on the bench… Tepai Moeroa (shoulder charge) was placed on report… Knights maintained their dominance over the Eels with nine wins from past 11 meetings and no losses to the Eels in Sydney since 2009… Eels next week at home to Cowboys… Knights next week at home to Roosters… crowd 7719