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Eels still can’t take a trick

Date

Adrian Proszenko

Eels 12 Knights 20

Finishing touch ... winger Akuila Uate scores a vital try for the Knights against Parramatta last night.

Finishing touch ... winger Akuila Uate scores a vital try for the Knights against Parramatta last night. Photo: Getty Images

THERE were an additional 337 games of experience in the Eels’ coaching box last night.

MATCH STATS/BLOG

Chris Anderson sat  next to Stephen Kearney for what was billed as the Battle for the Bottom, the second such event Parramatta have contested in as many matches. On this occasion, against Newcastle, they lost.

Feeling the brunt of an eager Knights defence ... Parramatta's Mitchell Allgood.

Feeling the brunt of an eager Knights defence ... Parramatta's Mitchell Allgood. Photo: Getty Images

Given  he had  been in the chair for less than  48 hours, it would be rich to expect  two-time premiership-winning coach Anderson to have any major influence on proceedings. However, Kearney believes it will come.

‘‘Definitely. I’ve had a fairly long relationship with ‘Opes’ going back a fair way now,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s a guy with 45 years of football experience, who has seen the good and the bad. He’s had an influence already.’’

Last night, Anderson saw some of the bad. A game that was there for the taking, only to be taken away by the opposition.  ‘‘It was a game where we probably should have won,’’ Parramatta captain Nathan Hindmarsh said. ‘‘Newcastle will probably tell you different, but I thought we had a few more chances than what they did.’’

Line break ... Chris Sandow looks to shake off Willie Mason.

Line break ... Chris Sandow looks to shake off Willie Mason. Photo: Getty Images

There was nothing between the sides at half-time. However, the Knights were sharper after the resumption.

The killer blows were landed by Kevin Naiqama and Akuila Uate respectively. Naiqama, brought into the line-up at the expense of listed fullback Peter Mata’utia, raced 95 metres to ensure his first try in the top grade was one to cherish. And then axed NSW winger Uate showed there was nothing wrong with his finishing skills when he sealed the deal midway through the second stanza.

The win came at a cost. Another discarded Blue, Kade Snowden, failed to finish proceedings. The big prop had to be escorted from the field in the 55th minute with grade-two knee-ligament damage. He could be out for up to a month.

For  Newcastle, now just two wins out of the eight, confidence is returning. ‘‘No doubt about that,’’  coach Wayne Bennett said. ‘‘We’re doing things that the good teams do and we’re starting to do it two weeks in a row now. We wouldn’t have won that game a month ago. We would have lost it just after half-time when the pressure was really on.’’

There were some positives for the Eels. Chris Sandow was dangerous in the first half when he took on the line rather than passing before it. His combination with new buy Luke Kelly also showed some promise.

However, Sandow, whose battle with opposing No.7 Jarrod Mullen was a cracker, couldn’t produce the match-winning play two weeks in a row.

‘‘When Chrissy was carrying the ball to the line, I thought he was causing some problems for them,’’ Kearney said. ‘‘In the second half we need him to get on the footy a bit more [before] we get into a situation where we are chasing.’’

When Kearney and Anderson last worked together, they won a competition 13 years ago. Their goals won’t be as lofty this time. The Eels are yet to win consecutive games since round 20 of 2010. They also remain on the bottom of the ladder.

In the other coach’s box, things haven’t exactly gone to plan either. However, consecutive wins give the Knights a chance of contesting the finals in their first year under Bennett. Asked if he felt for Kearney, whom he worked with at international level for New Zealand, he replied: ‘‘Of course you do. It’s tough.’’

NEWCASTLE 20 (J McManus J Mullen K Naiqama A Uate tries T Roberts 2 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 12 (M Keating K Sio tries L Burt 2 goals) at Parramatta Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Phil Haines. Crowd: 12,022.

 

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