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Good knight for Hagan - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 29 Mar 2008 10:10:00 GMT
Eels coach Michael Hagan finally scored a win over his former club after Parramatta prevailed over Newcastle 24-23 in an exciting golden point blockbuster at Parramatta Stadium on Friday night.

Front row forward Nathan Cayless kept Parramatta in the contest with an amazing field goal to lock the scores, before fullback Luke Burt slotted a one-pointer of his own three-and-a-half minutes into overtime to seal the contest.

But the focus was more on the performance of the third umpire, with knights coach Brian Smith seething about some of the calls his team received.

“There was one dubious one that went against us that led indirectly to two tries before we touched the ball again and there were two in the second half where I believe the referee came up with the wrong call and didn’t have a look,” Smith said.

“ I’m not blaming (referee) Tony (Archer), I think he’s a fine referee, I’m not blaming (Steve Clark) in the box tonight, I’m just saying the system needs to be addressed so that we don’t just get some of the calls right.”

The Eels began the contest the better, with prodigal son Tim Smith’s grubber kick ricocheting off the legs of a Knights player and into the hands of centre Jarryd Hayne for a 6-0 lead five minutes in.

Hayne then posted his second try within minutes, receiving a short ball from five-eighth Brett Finch to extend Parramatta’s lead to 10.

However the Knights quickly warmed to the contest and pulled one back when they found space on the Eels’ right hand side down and streaked over.

Newcastle then produced the same medicine with the exact same result; a lovely set of passes on the Knights’ left hand side giving winger Cooper Vuna the chance to reduce the score.

But it was the Eels who would go into the break the stronger of the two teams, Eric Grothe and then a long range try from Brett Finch setting up a healthy 20-12 half-time lead.

In the second half, it was the Knights who were determined to get back into the contest and their persistence paid off.

Just short of the hour mark, a bomb into the in-goal area was spilled only for former Dragons winger Wes Naiqama to pounce and score.

In the very next set of six the comeback was complete and Newcastle in-fact led by two points when a lovely move down Parramatta’s right hand side saw Keith Lulia find space and set the score 22-20 in the Knights’ favour.

The contest just continued to get better for the viewing fans as the match turned into a seesawing battle.

Firstly, a penalty to the Eels allowed Luke Burt to square the game before halfback Jarryd Mullen’s field goal hit the inside of the goal post and squirmed in to extend Newcastle’s lead by one.

In response, the Eels amazingly levelled the contest again just minutes before the full-time buzzer through of all people, prop Nathan Cayless, who kicked his first ever field goal to take the game into extra time.

When golden goal extra time ensued, Parramatta’s tenacity paid off with their hard work up front giving Luke Burt the first opportunity to aim for the sticks, and he made no mistake to give coach Michael Hagan his first ever win over his former side.

After the game, Hagan said he was not surprised to see Cayless throw one over, despite the stunned look on most people’s faces in the crowd.

“He keeps telling me how much he practices and how it’s part of his game, he never thought it was an issue,” Hagan said.

Next week, the in-form Knights travel to Mt Smart Stadium in New Zealand to face the Warriors while the Eels will face the struggling cowboys in Townsville who will be smarting from their 36-2 hiding in Friday’s other match against the Brisbane Broncos.
Parramatta 24 (J Hayne 2 B Finch E Grothe tries L Burt 3 goals L Burt N Cayless field goals) Newcastle 23 (K Lulia 2 W Naiqama C Vuna tries K Gidley 3 goals J Mullen field goal) in golden-point extra time at Parramatta Stadium. Referee: T Archer. Crowd: 15,176 Toyota Cup: Eels 18 d Newcastle 10. GRL Player of the Moment: Nathan Cayless - Read More, Here