The Newcastle Knights finally broke their losing drought in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW with a 62-26 thrashing of a disappointing Manly-Warringah at Cessnock Sports Ground this afternoon.
In scoring just their second win for the season, the Knights broke a 15 match losing streak going back to March 27 when they defeated Wentworthville in Round 4 at Ringrose Park.
Manly started off well enough when Blake Leary crashed over to open the scoring in the seventh minute for Dylan Kelly to convert and Manly to lead 6-nil.
A mid field bust by Lachlan Fitzgibbon sent Feeney away for his first try next to the uprights to level the scores at six apiece two minutes later with Bryce Donovan’s conversion.
A Pita Godinet break down the short side sent winger Peter Schuster over for his first try in the 15th minute for Manly to lead 12-6 with Kelly’s conversion.
Incredibly, that was the last time Manly led for the rest of the day.
The young Knights outfit burst the game wide open with the next seven tries of the match unanswered to blow the Sea Eagles away – whilst being helped with some indifferent defence at times from Manly.
Fitzgibbon burst through three poor attempted tackles in the 20th minute to level scores at 12-all with Donovan’s conversion.
Then a long Ryan Walker break from the restart sent Feeney racing away for his second try. Donovan converted and Newcastle had a an 18-12 lead.
Knights Fullback Dylan Phythian then won the race to the ball to his own grubber kick in goal against a lackadaisical Manly cover to extend the lead to 22-12 in the 28th minute.
The Knights by this point were making breaks out wide almost at will out and from another Bradie Smith break down the left four minutes later saw Feeney stab a grubber kick through poor Manly defence for Pearsall to score his first try. Donovan converted and Newcastle led 28-12.
However, The Knights weren’t yet finished for the first half.
Pearsall strolled through some pathetic Manly goal line defence to score his second try from a Feeney pass with three minutes left in the half for 34-12 with Donovan.
Then as the half time bell rang, another clean Fitzgibbon break sent Feeney galloping away under the posts to complete his first half hat trick. Donovan made no mistake and the Knights had their remarkable 40-12 lead at the break.
When Knights hooker Krys Freeman sliced through a yawning gap from dummy half to score five minutes into the second half, the Knights threatened to turn the match into a complete rout at 46-12 with yet another Donovan conversion.
Manly then restored some respectability by going at least try for try with the Knights for the rest of the match.
Schuster completed his double with a 50 metre cross field run to score near the posts for 46-18 with Isaac John taking over the goal kicking in the absence of Kelly, who left the field last in the first half with injury and did not return.
A Walker intercept in the 55th minute found Pearsall in support, before going to ground in a Lucas Price cover defensive tackle which ended in the Manly fullback being sin binned by referee Jeff Hartup for a professional foul.
From the penalty winger Ken Tofilau finished off a left side overlap with a spectacular dive in the corner to bring up the Knights’ 50 points in an Intrust Super Premiership match for the first time this season at 50-18.
Manly then scored some more consolation tries midway through the second half – centre Tony Satini crossed on the back of a repeat set, before Satini broke clear from the restart to send winger Clint Maguire away to score a second Manly try in two minutes at 50-26.
After John was placed on report for a back play infringement in the 67th minute, a Feeney grubber kick from the penalty was cleverly toed ahead by Walker to score. Donovan converted for a 56-26 Knights lead.
Newcastle centre Tom Hughes then put the icing on the Knights’ cake when he strolled over through disinterested Manly defence with three minutes left for the last try of the day. Donovan made no mistake to close out the emphatic 62-26 result.