Newcastle thrash Raiders in Canberra

Newcastle thrash Raiders in Canberra
By Eurosport

29/07/2012 at 19:31Updated 29/07/2012 at 19:32

For now, Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett is enjoying the crazy roller coaster ride that is the NRL.

In the wake of the Knights' emphatic 36-6 victory over the Raiders at Canberra Stadium on Sunday he's got every reason.

After languishing towards the bottom of the ladder for most of the season, the Knights are now genuine finals contenders in ninth spot on the table, equal with the Titans, Wests Tigers and Dragons on 22 competition points.

The Raiders, meanwhile, virtually said goodbye to any hope of making the finals, slipping to 13th place with five rounds to go.

Newcastle completely outplayed and outclassed the home side to notch their fifth victory from the past six encounters.

The Knights spent much of the game on the attack and it was only good defence by Canberra early in the first half that stopped the scoreline blowing out further.

"It's semi final type football," Raiders coach David Furner said of the six-tries-to-one result.

"Virtually we're in sudden death and they played a good brand and kicked better than us."

The last time the teams met the Knights were humiliated 32-16 at home en route to a five-match losing streak.

So what's changed?

"Nothing," Bennett replied at the post-match press conference.

"I don't change. They've just got a bit of confidence about themselves, they've got an idea how it works, they're all buying into it now.

"The mistakes they were making, they've just eliminated those and playing some great football."

How far can this new-found confidence take Newcastle?

"I've got to sit and wait. I've got no better insight than anybody else."

Bennett admits the NRL is completely crazy, citing Melbourne's five-match losing streak and Newcastle's resurgence.

"That's what makes it great for everybody involved if you're a fan, but if you're a coach it's a nightmare."

Furner is living that.

To add the humiliation of the scoreline, Canberra's Joe Picker was placed on report in the 55th minute for a dangerous throw on Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen and forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs suffered a grade two hamstring injury expected to keep him sidelined for four weeks.

Knights fullback Darius Boyd finally posted his first points for Newcastle, crossing in the corner in 45th minute.

Canberra fullback Josh Dugan denied Boyd a certain try in the 27th minute when he intercepted a pass from Knights forward Chris Houston.

Again Newcastle were denied in the 33rd minute when Canberra winger Sandor Earl was offside to stop the Knights crossing.

Earl paid the price by being sin-binned for 10 minutes.

That was all the Knights needed to finally add to the scoreline and halfback Tyrone Roberts ran 60 metres to cross for the visitors' second try.

His conversion gave Newcastle a healthy 12-0 halftime lead.

The second half opened in a similar fashion with a second try to winger Kevin Naiqama and tries to Boyd, winger Akuila Uate and Robbie Rochow.

Canberra finally scored a consolation in the 64th minute courtesy of centre Blake Ferguson.