Newcastle Knights successfully advanced to Week Two of the VB NSW Cup finals by convincingly defeating the Manly Sea Eagles 45-6.
Kerrod Holland was outstanding at fullback for the Knights, while Jaelen Feeney was a constant threat at halfback.
The defeat ends the Sea Eagles' season, who should be proud of their effort considering they were so low on the ladder halfway through the year.
The match began with Manly constantly on the attack, but the Knights defence had an answer for everything thrown at them.
In the 17th minute, a wonderful string of passes opened the account for the Knights. George Ndaira threw a perfect cutout pass for Ken Tofilau, who got the ball inside to Pat Mata’utia to set up a wonderful Danny Levi try.
They increased their lead to 12-0 just three minutes later after Feeney threw a nice inside ball to Luke Yates, who charged onto it into a gap and scored next to the posts.
The Sea Eagles finally hit back in the 25th minute when Holland misjudged an attacking bomb and Manaia Rudolph picked up the scraps and scored.
Holland immediately made up for his error shortly afterwards as he stepped through various defenders and ran away for a wonderful solo try to increase the Knights' lead to 18-6.
Newcastle increased their buffer on the stroke of halftime after a beautiful right to left shift put Honeti Tuha in space. He charged towards the line and beat various defenders before offloading for the try scorer to plant the ball down in the left corner.
The Sea Eagles went incredibly close to scoring after the fulltime buzzer, but a misdirected David Williams kick meant the halftime score remained 22-6 to the Knights.
Pat Mata’utia took an intercept inside the opening three minutes of the second half and ran 60 metres to score under the posts, which completely deflated the confidence of the Sea Eagles.
An inspirational piece of defensive work by Danny Levi denied Kurt Aldridge a certain try under the posts, before Dylan Kelly bombed a try the very next set when he could not handle a Rudolph grubber.
A perfect 40/20 from Feeney led to a Knights penalty adjacent to the posts on the following set, and they opted to take the two points on offer through Ndaira to make the score 30-6.
A swinging arm by James Hasson resulted in a mid-field penalty, and the Knights took full advantage of the field position through Tofilau who was on the end of a string of passes.
Holland kicked another penalty goal, before Feeney linked up with Chanel Mata’utia, who dummied and broke through the line with five minutes remaining, and then passed to Jacob Saifiti who increase the Knights lead to 44-6.
A Jaelen Feeney field goal on the fulltime siren completed the 45-6 victory, and will now face the Penrith Panthers in a sudden death semi-final next week.
Newcastle Knights 45 (D Levi, L Yates, P Mata’utia, L Fitzgibbon, K Tofiilau, J Safiti, K Holland tries; G Ndaira 4 goals, Holland 4 goals; J Feeney field goal) bt Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 6 (M Rudolph try; K Aldridge goal)