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Eels win NRL thriller in Newcastle

NZN 30/05/2016 Brett Keeble

Parramatta have begun their long climb back to NRL respectability, rallying to beat wooden-spoon favourites Newcastle 20-18 in a thriller at Hunter Stadium.

Coach Brad Arthur said on Sunday his embattled Eels had hit rock bottom in their year from hell and the only way was up.

His words proved prophetic as the win against the Knights on Monday night was their first since the NRL announced on May 3 they would be docked 12 points and fined $1 million for salary cap breaches.

But the Eels did it the hard way, losing skipper Kieran Foran to a recurrence of a shoulder injury before halftime and utility back Brad Takairangi to a hamstring injury, but dug deep when they had to.

Knights centre Nathan Ross scooted into the clear and thought he had scored what would have been a winning try in the 79th minute, but video replays showed he lost control of the ball after initially grounding it on the leg of Eels debutant Bevan French.

Trailing 10-0 after 25 minutes, the Knights rallied to score three tries to lead 14-10 at halftime then stretched that to 18-10 with a pair of Trent Hodkinson penalty goals early in the second half.

The Eels hit back with tries by French and Michael Gordon in the 59th and 62nd minutes to take a 20-18 lead, and they hung on against the Knights, who were chasing only their second win of the season.

The game could have been the last for Gordon and Knights forward Tariq Sims for their respective clubs.

Sims has agreed to terms on a three-year, $1.2 million deal with the Dragons, which is expected to be announced this week, and Gordon has been linked to the Roosters.

There is speculation both players could be released to join their new clubs before the June 30 transfer deadline.

"It's nice to go into the bye off the back of a win," Arthur said.

"I'm very proud of the boys. We had quite a few busted and we were down on troops and we toughed it out in the end."

Arthur acknowledged the Eels took a calculated risk playing Foran, who hurt his shoulder in an 18-6 loss to Melbourne last week, believing he hadn't sustained any structural damage.

Knights prop Korbin Sims was reported for a high tackle on Tepai Moeroa in the 68th minute.

Though disappointed about suffering a sixth straight loss, Newcastle coach Nathan Brown was pleased with his team's overall effort and enterprising attack in the first half.

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