Knights give Eels the slip and just stay ahead

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The Independent Online

The Newcastle Knights put the favourites Parramatta Eels to the sword in the first half of the Australian Grand Final, leaving them just too much to do in a brave fight-back.

Newcastle's 30-24 victory was built on the first 40 minutes in which the Knights did the simple things superbly, barely making a mistake and going over for four tries, all from their inspired back-row forwards. Bill Peden claimed two and the second-rowers, Steve Simpson and Ben Kennedy, one apiece in an overpowering display of the basics, in which they did not make an error of any description for half an hour. Simpson also made a brilliant try-saving tackle on Andrew Ryan that kept the Eels pointless at the end of one of the most one-sided first halves in Grand Final history.

A full-house of 90,414 at Stadium Australia saw Parramatta – the best team in the competition over the whole season – improve sharply after the break, without ever quite being able to get back on terms from their 24-point deficit.

Brett Hodgson and Jamie Lyon scored two tries each as they recovered the form that made them Minor Premiers, but Tamana Tahu's touchdown and the boot of Andrew Johns kept the Knights in control.

Hodgson's second try left the Eels with just 20 seconds in which to try to grab an equaliser and an amazing recovery was just beyond them. It was the second Premiership for Newcastle, whilst Parramatta have not won one since 1986 and Brian Smith still has never coached a side to victory on the big occasion.