Newcastle Knights are facing a sixth straight season without finals footy after suffering a 20-14 loss to Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.
The Knights slumped to 12th on the NRL ladder after their sixth straight defeat and will need a minor miracle to make the play-offs with just four games remaining.
They trailled 8-2 at halftime but gave their fans hope of an upset when they scored two early second half tries to lead 14-8. But despite a valiant defensive effort, they were unable to keep the Eels at bay.
The Knights' two tries came from kicks with the Eels also enjoying success in that area with three of their four tries coming off the back of kicks. But with more possession, Parramatta looked the more threatening during the game.
The Eels came out with plenty of intent and had two early sets at the Knights on their try-line but the defence held and it was the visitors who posted first points through a Mason Lino penalty goal at the 11th minute mark.
It wasn't until midway through the half the Eels hit back after some sustained pressure with Clint Gutherson planting the ball over in the corner after a Mitchell Moses cross-kick was fielded by winger Brad Takairangi. Moses missed the conversion but the Eels led 4-2.
Gutherson almost had a second 27 minutes in when he looked set to again score in the corner only for Kalyn Ponga to sweep across and power him into touch just shot of the try-line. Referee Adam Gee went upstairs to check the Knights fullback wasn't guilty of a shoulder charged but after several looks, the tackle was cleared.
But the Eels fullback didn't have to wait long for his second with Moses catching the Knights out just two minutes later with a clever kick.
Noticing Ponga up in the defensive line, Moses chipped into the Knights in-goal and Gutherson easily won the race to touch down for Parramatta's second try. Moses missed the kick from a handy position but it was 8-2.
With 56 percent of the first half possession, the Eels had plenty of field position and threatened a few more times before the break but the Knights defence hung on.
Two early tries in the second half to the Knights gave the visitors hope with Mitch Barnett scoring off a Mitchell Pearce cross-kick and Ponga providing the assist for Shaun Kenny-Dowall's try a few minutes later for a 14-8 lead.
But the Eels stepped it up a gear with two tries of their own to take an 18-14 lead midway through the second half after hooker Reed Mahoney and Maika Sivo went over.
Moses kicked a penalty goal right on fulltime to bring up the final score.