KNIGHTS 34 d. RAIDERS 20 @ McDonald Jones Stadium
Last-placed Newcastle powered to a stirring 14-point victory on Sunday, consigning highly-fancied Canberra to its third straight loss.
THE MATCH: Wingers Nathan Ross and Nick Cotric traded tries inside the first 10 minutes, but it was a stunning solo effort by Knights second-rower and captain Sione Mata’utia in the 16th minute that gave the home side a 10-8 halftime lead.
Elliot Whitehead crossed to put the Raiders back in front just four minutes after the resumption, before a three-try rush in the space of 10 minutes – with Joe Wardle, and Sione and Peter Mata’utia dotting down – put the Knights in a match-winning position at 28-14.
The Raiders kept the flame flickering via Cotric’s second try in the 75th minute, but the Knights sealed a richly deserved win when Brock Lamb scored from a kick in the dying stages.
THE MAN: Besides his two crucial tries, Sione Mata’utia topped the Knights’ tackle count with 41 and racked up 10 carries. His progression from 18-year-old Kangaroos winger to tough and industrious second-rower at just 20 has been quite remarkable.
THE MOMENT: Joey Leilua dashed his NSW Origin hopes with a bad fumble on his own line just before the hour mark, which allowed Samoa teammate Sione Mata’utia to pounce and put the Knights eight points in front. They never looked back.
ROOSTERS 48 d. EELS 10
Sydney Roosters flexed their muscle with an eight-tries-to-two demolition of a shockingly outclassed Parramatta Eels side.
THE MATCH: The Roosters made their intentions clear early as recalled centre Latrell Mitchell and hooker Jake Friend scored inside the first 10 minutes. Clint Gutherson pegged one back for the Eels, but Tricolours wingers Daniel Tupou and Blake Ferguson went in before the break to set up a 28-4 lead.
Tupou virtually sealed the result four minutes after the resumption with his second try, before a superb solo effort from Michael Jennings – whose break set up Gutherson’s try – gave the Eels brief respite.
The Roosters put their foot on the Eels’ throat in the final 14 minutes, courtesy of two brilliant finishes from Ferguson either side of his bat-back assist for Joseph Manu to score.
THE MAN: Ferguson removed any doubt as to whether he will be retained in Laurie Daley side for the series opener, producing easily his best club performance of the year on the back of a strong Anzac Test showing. A hat-trick and 179 metres from 19 runs represented an excellent afternoon’s work from the strapping three-quarter.
THE MOMENT: A dreadful loss for the Eels was compounded by a leg injury to linchpin Corey Norman, who limped off 10 minutes into the second half. Norman was looming as a possible replacement for Johnathan Thurston if the Queensland champion is ruled out of Origin I, while the Eels’ prospects of moving up the ladder during their halfback’s potential absence are extremely dire.