Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The Parramatta Eels we’re in the top four with just a few weeks to go in the 2021 NRL season before a form slump saw them finish in sixth on the ladder.
Newcastle on the other could not be more different, as the Knights were sat outside of the top eight not too long ago, but a good run home would result in them cruising into seventh, setting up a finals showdown between the Eels and Knights in which the loser would be eliminated from this year’s competition.
For the Eels, this was their third consecutive finals appearance, while the Knights were appearing in back to back finals series for the first time since 2004.
Parramatta had a horror start to the game, with captain Clinton Gutherson’s kick off going out on the full which gave Newcastle a penalty on the halfway line and they took advantage, as Enari Tuala cruised over in the corner to put the Knights on the board in the first set of the game.
The Eels would hit back ten minutes later through Waqa Blake, followed by a back and forth 15 minute period in which both forward packs were putting on some big hits; however, Hymel Hunt would display great footwork to get through Parramatta’s defence and put Newcastle back in front in the 24th minute, but shortly after Mitchell Moses would glide through the Knights defence and score a great individual try, which saw the Eels take the lead and have momentum well and truly shift their way, before Blake Ferguson would cross the white line in the corner for Parramatta’s third try.
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At half-time the Eels led 16-10.
Ferguson would get his double eight minutes into the second half, with Moses throwing a beautiful pass over to the former New South Wales State of Origin winger which allowed him to stroll over and score unchallenged by a Newcastle edge defence that went missing.
Newcastle would then respond just five minutes later as Jake Clifford put a perfectly timed grubber into the corner for Enari Tuala who scored his second try of the afternoon.
Tuala would then grab his hattrick as he received an amazing cut out pass from Kalyn Ponga to dive over and score.
However, Will Penisini would win the game for Parramatta after being awarded penalty try and book the Eels a spot in the Semi-Final next weekend against local rivals the Penrith Panthers.
The final score ended up 28-20.