Knights crash to 32-16 loss to Raiders
Wayne Bennett’s season of misery continued on Saturday night when Newcastle meekly fell to a 32-16 defeat to Canberra at Hunter Stadium.
The upset, which leaves Newcastle just two points off last place and on a five-game losing streak, resulted in them being booed off the field by a disappointed crowd after losing to a team which had to deny rumours their coach David Furner was facing the sack earlier this week.
Both sides entered the match in horrible form and with coaches under immense pressure.
Canberra had lost five of their past six, including an incredible 40-0 loss to Wests Tigers at home last round, while Newcastle had conceded 50 points in their last start at Brisbane.
But it was the Raiders who shot out of the blocks, makeshift five-eighth Josh Dugan setting up tries to Edrick Lee and Joel Thompson in the opening ten minutes to open up a 12-0 lead.
A penalty goal to Jarrod Croker, who kicked six from six, extended the lead to 14 before the Knights were sparked into action.
Mid-season buys Dane Gagai, sacked by Brisbane earlier this year, and Willie Mason, without a club until thrown a lifeline by the Knights, both crossed to pull the home team within eight at halftime.
Mason has been a rare bright spot in Newcastle’s awful form, and his try before the break drew a small cheer from the crowd but they never looked like reeling in the Raiders, even when given a glut of possession early in the second half thanks to some sloppy Canberra handling.
In the end it was a fortuitous penalty which gifted the Knights their best opportunity, and they made the most of it – James McManus scoring out wide to reduce the deficit to just four.
But a comical play-the-ball error from Kade Snowden soon after the kickoff led to a Trevor Thurling try with just over 15 minutes to play, while Lee sprinted 70 metres to ice the game with his second try five minutes from time.© AAP 2013
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