The Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels squared off in what was most likely an early finals preview, as both sides were comfortably placed in the top five.
The Knights were the team that took control of the early stages after Shaun Lane stepped onto the touchline from kick-off.
They even had two chances to score in the opening 12 minutes.
The first came following a knock-on from the Parramatta Eels, when the ball ricocheted into the hands of Tautau Moga, but unfortunately to the centre couldn’t ground the ball.
The next chance came on the left-hand edge as the ball was spread wide to Enari Tuala, but unfortunately, the final pass drifted forward from Bradman Best.
After being able to hold the Knights on, the Eels finally got a grip on the game and in the 15th minute, Junior Paulo crashed into the line and offloaded back to Reed Mahoney, who pushed the ball to Ryan Matterson who strolled over for a score.
Dylan Brown made a 30-metre line break just over five minutes later and all he had to do was throw the pass left out to Maika Sivo to break inside the Knights 20-metre line.
However, he chose to slow down and pop the ball to Clint Gutherson, who was instantly closed down by the home side and the play dwindle to nothing.
With nine minutes to go until the break, the Eels were inches within a second try.
Mahoney picked the ball up from dummy-half and dribbled a kick towards the posts for Reagan Campbell-Gillard to chase onto. Fortunately for the Knights, the ball bounced awkwardly and back off the upright as the prop-forward looked to claim the loose ball.
Just a few minutes later, and the half coming towards the close Newcastle were back inside the Eels 10-metre line.
After a quick play-the-ball from Lachlan Fitzgibbon near the goal-line, Andrew McCullough pushed over the top of Jai Field and twisted through Gutherston to ground the ball.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 4-4 Parramatta Eels
The Knights were winning the territorial battle at the start of the second-half but the Eels were doing a terrific job a shutting their opposition out.
With just short of an hour of the game gone, and the game still at four apiece, the defensive talents of both sides were certainly on display.
That looked to change when Reed Mahoney burrowed over from dummy-half and scored.
However, the gap Mahoney ran through was created by Marata Niukore falling over and the try was disallowed.
The Eels did pick up two points though as David Klemmer was penalised for interference at the ruck which caused Niukore to fall over.
Just a few minutes later, Mahoney once again looked to create an opportunity for the Eels to extend their lead as his kick along the ground bounced off a Knights player, and was then regathered by Ryan Matterson who grounded the ball.
On closer inspection, Matterson knocked the ball on when attempted to gather and the slender two-point lead was extended.
With 15 minutes remaining, Mitchell Pearce conceded a high tackle on Gutherson.
While Pearce was blowing up, the referee allowed Gutherson to take a quick tap and with just Kalyn Ponga to beat, the full-back dragged in his opposite number before passing onto Sivo on the outside to score.
With time ticking by, the Knights were still in the game and looked to finally level up when Kalyn Ponga’s kick along the floor was dotted down by Tex Hoy just centimetres before the dead-ball line.
However, Hoy was an inch in front of Ponga when the kick was made and once again the Knights were denied.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 4-10 Parramatta Eels
Ponga, Hunt, Tuala, Best, Moga, Mann, Pearce, Klemmer, McCullough, D. Saifii, Fitzgibbon, Guerra, Ese’ese
Interchanges: Joy, J. Saifiti, Saulo, Jones
Goals: Ponga (0/1)
Gutherson, Sivo, Jennings, Blake, Ferguson, Brown, Field, Campbell-Gillard, Mahoney, Paulo, Lane, Matterson, Brown
Interchanges: Gower, Utoikamanu, Niukore, Takairangi
Tries: Matterson, Sivo
Goals: Gutherson (1/3)
Referee: G. Sutton
Touch Judges: C. Butler, T. Roby
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)