By Jamie Anderson at Newcastle No.2 Sportsground
The Newcastle Knights have moved to within a whisker of securing a top four finish with a solid 42-18 win over the Sea Eagles on Sunday.
Four second half tries to Nathan Ross saw the Knights pull away from a Manly side that was up for the fight early on but just fell away late in the piece.
The Knights drew out to an early lead when Josh Mantellato crossed for his 16th try of the season, but Manly hit straight back not long after when young halfback Zac Nicholls dove over near the posts.
Locked up at six apiece, Manly made it back to back tries when they took the ball the length of the field from the restart, and Jayden Hodges was the beneficiary of some nice lead up work.
The game flowed back and forth with neither side really asserting their ascendency upon the other, but in the shadows of half time, the Knights made it back to back tries thanks to Pat Mata’utia and Tyler Randell, with Randell’s try in particular one of the highlights of the day.
Now leading 18-12 at the break the Knights headed to the sheds knowing that they were forty good minutes of footy away from moving into the top four.
But it was Manly that started the brighter of the two and they were rewarded ten minutes into the second period when a grubber close to the line ricocheted off the posts eluding several Knights defenders, and eventually Jack Littlejohn got a hand on it to claim the try.
This was to be the last time that Manly would bother the scorers though as the Knights posted 24 unanswered points.
Nathan Ross claimed a legitimate hat trick of tries, scoring back to back to back in the 55th, 59th and 69th minutes before Sam Mataora got in on the act also.
But it was Nathan Ross who somewhat justifiably had the final say of the match when he crossed for his fourth try of the afternoon, and 15th for the year, in the 76th minute.
Ross was a standout on the day in both defence and attack for the Knights while Sam Mataora continued his good form at his new club with another powerful display up front.
This weekend the Knights will host a desperate Jets side at Hunter Stadium on Saturday while Manly will play their final match of the year against the Bulldogs at Brooky.
Newcastle Knights 42 (N Ross 4, J Mantellato, P Mata'utia, T Randell, S Mataora tries; J Mantellato 5 goals) def. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 18 (Z Nicholls, J Hodges, J Littlejohn tries; J Littlejohn 3 goals) at Newcastle No.2 Sports Ground.