The Eels and Knights were engaged in rapid fire NRL Rugby League, the first half being played at a frantic pace.
Parramatta looking focused for their first home game and enjoying big early possession. Tim Smith slotting back in nicely and adding more direction and options in attack. The Eels scoring early, Jarryd Hayne getting a nice reflex action try off a ricochet from a Knights foot after a Tim Smith grubber sped through.
The Eels were in again, working for the penalties and piggy backing down field. It was Jarryd Hayne again who scored the 4 pointer, running on to a great gap run off a Brett Finch cut out ball – hammering the Knights right edge and scoring. Burt missing the conversion 10-0 to the Eels. The score looked like being anything here, the Eels having heaps of ball and Mateo and co running riot mid field for plenty of second phase play.
The Knights to their credit responded well, when they got their fair share of ball they too looked sharp in attack. With field position eventually coming their way, the game plan was obviously to attack the Eric Grothe edge. Brian Smith sending plenty of traffic they way of his old winger, the Knights getting over the line easily from a nice backline back in the 12 minute. Keith Lulia scoring easily on the Eels right hand edge.
The Knights gained confidence from the try and the likes of Danny Buderus and Kurt Gidley were making inroads in the retreating Eels defence. Half back Scott Dureau backing things up with a good long kicking game, making Luke Burt work hard in defence. Dureau kicking regularly on the 4th tackle to turn the Eels around.
The strict Knights game plan worked wonders again, in the 30th minute Cooper Vuna exploiting Eric Grothe and his defence problems again roaring in to get the Knights in front after a pin point Kurt Gidley conversion. 12-10 Knights.
The game had quickly turned on it’s head, the Eels had gone from cruise mode to playing for survival with the Knights showing their attacking flair.
Grothe then worked hard to repay his team and did it in the best way possible, scoring off a long range Eels movement that went through plenty of hands. The Eels worked it from left to right from 40m and after Joel Reddy made an angled run to find space, he passed to Grothe who took a tough catch and charged bum-on ‘Craig Young’ style to hit, spin and reach out to score.
The Eels revived and scoring again through Brett Finch. Feliti Mateo busting poor defence centre field to position Finch to score under the goal posts untouched. The Eels getting the upper hand minutes before half time 20-12
After half time, both sides coming out a little weary and taking a while to get into top gear. The Knights having the best early chance, getting some good field position but bombing a certain try and Danny Wicks pulled off a great hit and spin, offloading to Gidley who only had to pass to McManus for the try. Gidley throwing the ball behind the winger and losing it over the whitewash.
The Knights continued their solid push, in the 45th minute – boom halfback Scott Dureau putting up a classic spiral bomb a la Matt Orford that always looked like troubling Luke Burt – it was dropped, but Jarryd Hayne was there to clean up the Eels.
After 10 minutes of the second half both teams started getting very sloppy, plenty of dropped ball and poor passing saw the game start to get a touch ugly. The Eels snapping out of it to nearly go over through Mark Riddell. Piggy charging at the line from 2m, getting over and wrestling to score – referee Tony Archer making a poor call of held and not letting the player fight the defence. Mark Riddell actually scoring a try, but it was pulled back because of the held call. The Eels were understandably furious and back chatted costing them another penalty.
The Knights taking the chance with both hands and eventually scoring through Wes Naiqama and bringing the game back to 20-18. The Knights for the first time looking good enough to go all the way and the Eels on their heels. Danny Buderus was carving the Eels up having his best game in a long time, certainly looking every bit the representative player he was.
After 62 minutes, the Knights were looking home and hosed with a slick left edge play showing more Eels problems in defence – Gidley offloading for Patterson to eventually position Lulia to score a hot Knights try – sending them to 22-20 after Gidley narrowly missed the kick.
Newcastle hurting themselves after giving away a penalty soon after and letting the Eels sneak back in.
Jarrod Mullen got his side edged ahead again in the 73rd minute with a snap field goal and making it 23-22.
The Eels looked gone, but somehow captain Nathan Cayless snapped a field goal to send the game into golden point. 23-23
The Eels holding their nerve to get a field goal from the scrum to win 24-23