Knights crash to new depths of despair

THE Newcastle Knights crashed to new depths of despair last night as struggling Canberra staged a 32-16 boilover at Hunter Stadium.

The result, Newcastle's fifth loss on the spin, leaves Wayne Bennett's hapless troops languishing in 14th place on the competition ladder, after four wins from their first 13 games, and needing a miracle to reach the finals.

The Raiders had lost five of their previous six matches leading into the clash, but dominated Newcastle from the outset.

A Willie Mason try second before half-time left the Knights facing a 20-12 deficit at the break.

The Raiders led 14-0 after 23 minutes after tries by winger Edrick Lee, back-rower Joel Thompson and three goals from Jarrod Croker.

The Knights responded with a try on debut from rookie centre Dane Gagai, but the Raiders hit back with a Bronson Harrison try to lead 20-6 leading into the break.

Mason's try made it an eight-point ball game and lifted Newcastle at a crucial time.

A James McManus try in the 59th minute made it 20-16 to the visitors, but when Trevor Thurling crashed over in the 63rd minute to restore Canberra's 10-point advantage, Newcastle's heads dropped.

A runaway Lee try after an intercept put the issue beyond doubt.

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