NRL round 23 | Newcastle Knights 29 stun 10 Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.

YOU BEAUTY: Dane Gagai congratulates Mitch Barnett after his early try. Picture: AAP
YOU BEAUTY: Dane Gagai congratulates Mitch Barnett after his early try. Picture: AAP

NEWCASTLE ended an away-game losing run dating back almost two years and climbed out of the NRL cellar with a stunning 29-10 boilover against Parramatta at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

The Knights last won on the road in Melbourne on August 24, 2015, and had endured a 23-game losing streak in enemy territory.

Yet they dominated the fifth-placed Eels from the opening exchanges to claim their third successive win and biggest scalp since Nathan Brown was appointed coach at the end of the 2015 season.

The upset triumph lifted Newcastle to five wins, equal with Wests Tigers, who host Manly at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday. 

The two teams have equal differentials of minus-181 points, but the Knights have scored more points (370 to 323) and have hence, temporarily at least, climbed off the bottom.

Newcastle have now beaten St George Illawarra, the Warriors and Eels in successive weeks.

For the 12th time this season, Newcastle led at half-time. Of the previous 11 half-time leads, only three led to wins.

Former Eels winger Ken Sio opened the scoring against his old club in the sixth minute when quick hands gave him a yard of space on the left edge.

Two minutes later, lock Mitch Barnett scored his third try in two games after combining with Brock Lamb and Dane Gagai.

Halfback Trent Hodkinson converted both tries.

Ten minutes later, turbo-charged Eels centre Michael Jennings burst through some flimsy defence to score a runaway try.

On the last play of the first half, Parramatta hoisted a bomb and it ended in the hands of fullback Will Smith, a former Knights lower-grader, who strolled over.

Tempers flared at this point and a host of players from both teams became embroiled in a melee.

Smith went from Parramatta hero to villain 14 minutes into the second half when he was sin-binned for a professional foul.

Within a minute, Newcastle extended their lead when Lamb laid on a try for back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon.

Six minutes later, the Maitland-born five-eighth stepped his way through Parramatta’s goal-line defence for his third try in as many games.

Hodkinson’s goal made it 24-10 to the visitors with 20 minutes to play.

Sio’s second try, a spectacular one-handed, diving effort, took the result beyond doubt.

Lamb capped another fine all-round game with 78th-minute field goal.


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