A shoulder injury to Queensland reserve hooker Reed Mahoney has soured Parramatta’s 40-4 romp over the Knights in Newcastle.
Released from the Maroons camp ahead of the State of Origin opener, Mahoney picked up where he left off for the Eels with sublime service to set up two tries before he went down after attempting a 68th minute tackle.
Mitch Moses was also benched in the 56th minute as a precaution after the Eels star playmaker had a calf niggle.
But there were few other complaints for Parramatta after they snapped a two-game losing run with an eight tries to one rout that spoiled Newcastle’s Old Boys Day celebrations.
Not much went right for the Knights who trailed 22-0 at half-time and were down to 12 men after Sauaso Sue was sin-binned in the 67th minute for a late tackle.
The Knights faithful were up and about before the match as the club saluted members of their 2001 premiership win over the Eels who had gathered for their special day.
It seemed only something special from Parramatta would be able to silence the rabid Newcastle fans after their beloved team ran out with a guard of honour from their 2001 heroes.
But the Eels revelled in the role of party poopers with captain Clint Gutherson inspiring a whirlwind start by setting up two tries and scoring himself.
The Knights set up their premiership boilover 20 years ago by ambushing the Eels to lead 24-0 at half-time – an effort almost equalled by Parramatta on Sunday.
The Eels scored five unanswered tries including a double for Fijian flyer Maika Sivo to lead 22-0 at the main break – the most they have scored in a first half against Newcastle since 2004.
They scored another three in the second half but only one while enjoying a one man advantage – Waqa Blake in the 70th minute.
Eels back-rower Ryan Matterson stole the show early by scoring in just the fourth minute before delivering a clever flick pass to set up the first NRL try for four-game youngster Haze Dunster who replaced veteran winger Blake Ferguson.
From there the first half was the Gutherson show as the Eels finished with three tries in nine minutes.
Sivo’s double took him to second on the 2021 try scoring tally with 13, with his second four-pointer marking No.50 of his career in just his 59th game, becoming the third fastest player to reach the milestone.
Newcastle were on the backfoot from the outset, with their pack missing Tyson Frizell (ankle), David Klemmer (suspension) and Daniel Saifiti (NSW).
While the Knights were bolstered by an impressive club debut by ex-North Queensland playmaker Jake Clifford, they were their own worst enemies as Parramatta made them pay for handling errors.
Newcastle only got on the board in the 75th minute when Enari Tuala crashed over.
Six players were placed on report while Knights winger Starford To’a suffered a groin injury.