Knights 16 Raiders 32
Shaun Fensom of the Raiders is upended. Photo: Getty Images
MINING magnate Nathan Tinkler shelled out millions to Wayne Bennett in expectation of premierships.
But instead the supercoach could take Newcastle to the dreaded wooden spoon after the Knights slumped to their fifth straight loss last night.
Dumped ... Jarrod Crocker of the Raiders is tackled heavily by Jarrod Mullen of the Knights. Photo: Getty Images
A determined Canberra side, desperate to break its own dismal spell, did just enough to run out winners at a chilly Hunter Stadium.
Asked what he could take out of the game, Bennett said: ''Not very much. There's not much to take out of them except what we all know. If you keep making unforced errors you're going to keep yourself under a lot of pressure and we're not defending it real well at the moment either, so it's all compounding.
''I don't know whether we're going backwards or forwards right now.''
Joel Thompson scores the Raiders' second. Photo: Peter Stoop
The Raiders had won just one of their past six games and were coming off a record 40-0 thumping to Wests Tigers. But a double to winger Edrick Lee and an eye-catching performance from makeshift five-eighth Josh Dugan led the Raiders to their fifth win of the season.
That will ease the pressure on coach David Furner, while Bennett will be under the spotlight with the Knights winning four of their first 13 games, two competition points clear of last-placed Parramatta.
Furner said the Raiders' week-long camp on the Central Coast was beneficial to his side's effort.
"What we set out to achieve during the week and what we wanted to get out of the camp … The performance tonight was a little bit of a result of it,'' he said. "We've got some young players and we needed to do some team activities.''
The Knights began like a side down on confidence, making error after error. Fullback Peter Mata'utia dropped the ball cold on his team's opening set of six, while Kevin Naiqama's glaring mistake was more costly. Naiqama hesitated in taking a towering Dugan bomb, the ball bouncing between three Knights players to allow Lee to score.
Dugan was in everything early, looking far more comfortable in his second start in the No.6 jersey. A clever short ball from Dugan found a charging Joel Thompson to score under the posts. The Raiders controlled play but could only extend their lead through a Jarrod Croker penalty goal. After Timana Tahu was held up in the corner, the Knights finally got on the board when Dane Gagai stood up Croker to score on debut for his new club.
Another Knights mistake allowed the Raiders to extend their lead nearing half-time. Winger James McManus dropped a Josh McCrone kick, with Bronson Harrison on the spot to pick up the scraps. The Raiders' soft defence close to their own try-line was exposed soon after when Willie Mason barged over for his first four-pointer in red and blue.
The Raiders had an 86 per cent completion rate in the first half, but they channelled Greg Norman to do their best to give away the game with simple mistakes. The pressure told when McManus scored to reduce the margin to four points in the second half before the Raiders pulled clear with tries to Trevor Thurling and Lee.
RAIDERS 32 (E Lee 2 B Harrison J Thompson T Thurling tries J Croker 6 goals) bt NEWCASTLE 16 (D Gagai W Mason J McManus tries T Roberts 2 goals) at Hunter Stadium. Referee: Jared Maxwell, Ashley Klein. Crowd: 15,114.