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Bennett blown away by killer Knights

James McManus scores a try

Having started coaching rugby league in 1976, it takes a fair bit to surprise Newcastle mentor Wayne Bennett.
Bennett blown away by killer Knights
by AAP

By Rob Forsaith

NEWCASTLE, NSW, June 30 AAP - Having started coaching rugby league in 1976, it takes a fair bit to surprise Newcastle mentor Wayne Bennett.

But even the iconic master coach was taken aback by the relentless pressure and free-wheeling attack of his NRL side, who scored six first-half tries in the wet on Sunday en route to a 46-16 rout of Gold Coast.


"We didn't know what to expect with the conditions the way they were. It kind of blew me away a little bit to think they could score that many points," Bennett said of the clinic his charges put on at a sodden Hunter Stadium.

The Knights, piloted by the superb kicking game of Jarrod Mullen, returned to the productive play that netted their most recent win - a 44-8 shellacking of Canterbury some six weeks ago.

Winger James McManus will grab all the headlines thanks to his four tries, which equalled a club record, but it was the Knights' aggression and tackling that pleased Bennett.

"In the end, they just couldn't breathe, the Titans. The pressure just kept building on them," he said.

The visitors struggled to complete sets and knocked-on at will in slippery conditions and their misery was compounded by the Knights' ability to swing the ball left to McManus with devastating effect.

McManus scored a first-half hat-trick, giving Newcastle a 36-0 halftime lead as Titans coach John Cartwright reshuffled his players after Jamal Idris' early exit with a suspected broken fibula.

"It was a big blow (losing Idris), but I don't want to use that as an excuse. I thought we looked a little bit loose right from the start and losing Jamal probably just added to it," Cartwright said of his side's worst loss for the year.

McManus, the competition's leading try-scorer with 15 this season, will be talked about as a potential NSW candidate for the State of Origin series decider after Nathan Merritt's poor debut in game two - just not by Bennett.

"I keep reading about what makes an Origin player. It (that discussion) started in NSW and it's still here. They can't work it out," he said of McManus, who has played one game for NSW.

"I've said all I'm going to say on it. Work it out for yourself," Bennett added when asked if he'd pick McManus for game three.

The only sour note for the crowd of 9208 was Newcastle veteran Willie Mason being put on report for a high shot on Titans youngster Sam Irwin.

Titans enforcer Ashley Harrison limped off in the second half with a shin injury, but Cartwright said he should be right to take on Penrith in Darwin.




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