The gritty Knights have rolled a hapless Manly today 26-12, consigning the premiers to the cellar of the NRL table as they put on a strong showing in front of their home crowd at EnergyAustralia Stadium today.
It was a 5 tries to 2 affair, with the Knights never really headed – the Sea Eagles at times looking seriously dis-organised as they struggled to find any spark at all.
That makes it 4 consecutive losses for last years benchmark side Manly, whatever confidence was left is surely leaked out by now.
It was an encouraging start for the Manly men, getting over the try line early through centre Steve Matai. But the curse that strikes Matai every few weeks came again, the Kiwi centre again hitting the floor and remaining down, this time a pinched nerve. Matai helped off the field, leaving his side down on personnel.
After scoring first, Manly were rarely seen again. Any raid into Newcastles territory was snuffed out quickly by good scrambling Knights defence. Newcastle well aided by the carefree footy of Ben Rogers, Aku Uate and again Junior Sau.
With every minute that ticked by, the Newcastle side grew in confidence. By the matches end, they looked extremely good – finding fluidity even they had lacked in the earlier rounds.
The Newcastle side has snuck to 4 points on the NRL ladder and are flying nicely under the radar at this stage, proving they will be a force when they get some troops back from injury.
Touchdowns to both Zeb Taia and the rampaging Junior Sau got them into a nice lead at the half time break, and after instructions from Brian Smith – they came out and continued on their mission.
A late try to Aku Uate summing up the fortunes of both the Knights and Eagles; the tough but athletic outside back hurling himself into the air and ripping a ball from the grip of the usually safe David Williams – to crash down for an impressive try.
The relaible James McManus touched down late, as did the elusive Kurt Gidley – the scoreline flattering Manly, it could have been worse, had some additional opportunities come off. Shane Neuman getting a consolation try for Manly with only minutes to go.
The game continues a Round of upsets, as several of the favourites were rolled – with NRL sides still jockying for form and consistency in 2009.