Tigers stay alive, end Knights NRL misery

David Nofoaluma has scored three of eight Wests Tigers' tries in a 46-4 NRL thrashing of Newcastle.
David Nofoaluma has scored three of eight Wests Tigers' tries in a 46-4 NRL thrashing of Newcastle.

Benji Marshall has turned back the clock to keep the Wests Tigers' NRL finals hopes alive and end Newcastle's horror week with a 46-4 flogging.

After a horror few days including the end-of-season resignation of coach Nathan Brown, the Tigers put the Knights out of their misery and all but wiped out their finals hopes at Campbelltown.

With their best opening-half performance in 13 years, the Tigers led 30-0 at the break and barely let up to claim their biggest win over Newcastle.

Marshall started at hooker and set up five tries for the equal-highest assist haul of his career, while Luke Brooks was sublime and winger David Nofoaluma scored a hat-trick.

The result leaves the Tigers in ninth place, and still a shot at the finals if they beat St George Illawarra and Cronulla in the next fortnight.

The Knights, in contrast, are just a slim mathematical chance, needing to win their last two and have other results go in their favour.

With Robbie Farah still on crutches, Marshall had an immediate impact when he grubbered out of dummy-half for Ryan Matterson in the fourth minute to score.

He later reverted to five-eighth and combined with Nofoaluma for three tries in 15 minutes either side of halftime, with the second showcasing two pieces of vintage Marshall magic.

After kicking for him before halftime, he put the Tigers' winger over at the start of the second term with a bullet cutout pass before Nofoaluma grubbered for himself.

Nofoaluma's third came after Marshall broke free on the last tackle, dashing down the right edge before finding the winger to send him over.

His final effort was to put Michael Chee Kam through a gap, before he was given an early rest by coach Michael Maguire with 10 minutes to go.

"Benj has definitely given me some options there. He did a good job for us there," Maguire said.

"He definitely handled it alright. When you've got a bit more defence throughout a game, we will see how that is handled."

Marshall was the brains behind the move, which allowed Matterson to play as a running forward at five-eighth for the first 20 minutes before Josh Reynolds came on at dummy-half.

The veteran is happy to remain there while ever Farah is out, with the injured hooker still targeting a miracle final-round return.

"I didn't mind it ... I think it probably helped the team a lot," Marshall said.

"I just wanted to take the sting out of the game, because Josh hadn't played No.9 a lot.

"I thought we played a lot freer tonight; we looked like we were just playing footy."

Brooks meanwhile had two assists, including a no-look short ball for Luke Gardner to hit a gap and score untouched.

Aidan Guerra scored the Knights' only try in the 73rd minute, but it did little to gloss over arguably the worst performance of Brown's tenure.

"With so much to play for ... the first half is probably a reflection off why me and the boss came to the resolution we did last week," Brown said.

Australian Associated Press