Needing a win after two straight losses, the Parramatta Eels knew they had to head to Hunter Stadium and reverse the trend that had seen them struggle to win games away from home in the past.
The demons are gone for now after they did just that on the back of a two-try effort for hooker Nathan Peats, as the Eels held on to win 28-22 over the Newcastle Knights.
Newcastle were somewhat of a bogey team for the Eels, with the win the Eels first over the Knights in seven attempts.
On the Knights, after what looked like a rampant start to the season with four straight wins, they have now lost three on the trot and also need a win to regain their confidence.
What pleased Knights coach Rick Stone is the way that his side stuck around in the game and their resolve, even if they did not end up winning the game.
“We hung on pretty bravely in the second half,” Stone said.
“We held on for a while there but then they scored a couple of tries from kicks and a soft one from dummy-half off the back of our errors of course.”
The game went back and forth with key players from several sides strutting their stuff. Eels halves Corey Norman and Chris Sandow both performed strongly with deft touches – Sandow got his 40/20 boots going, kicking one during the game – with Dane Gagai shining for the Knights.
The match was also the return of Richie Fa’aoso, who had not played in the NRL in 569 days – since he suffered an injury whilst playing for Manly in the 2013 NRL finals series.
Unfortunately, the return was short-lived, with the prop forced to leave the field early due to concussion after colliding with Knights forward, Jack Stockwell.
The Eels steely resolve might have won over coach Brad Arthur one day but not today.
“I just told the boys we can’t do that one week and not the next,” Arthur said.
“We have shown if we turn up with the right mindset we can win games. It was a scrappy win but we played tough to win it. I’m still cranky about it though.”
Player of the Game:
3. Nathan Peats
2. Dane Gagai
1. Corey Norman
Parramatta Eels 28 (John Folau 2, Nathan Peats 2, Bureta Faraimo, Tries; Chris Sandow 4 Goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 22 (Chris Houston, Akuila Uate, Dane Gagai, James McManus Tries; Tyrone Roberts 3 Goals) at Hunter Stadium. Crowd: 16,953. Halftime: Knights 12-10.