The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs made it five in row after defeating the Newcastle Knights 16-12 at ANZ Stadium.
Both sides were dealt early blows in terms of injury. Canterbury’s Tim Lafai suffered a concussion at training and was and ruled out for Moses Mbye who made his debut in the centres. Newcastle’s Jeremy Smith was also a late withdrawal, replaced in the starting lineup by Adam Cuthbertson.
In front of 15,286 fans, The Dogs began extremely well, and were rewarded with two repeat sets inside the Knights half that gifted the blue and white with some early field position.
A kick from Hodkinson was batted back by Josh Reynolds, picked up by Josh Jackson who then threw a quick pass to Mitch Brown who went over unmarked in the right corner six minutes into the match. Trent Hodkinson couldn’t convert and the Bulldogs lead 4-0.
A Jarrod Mullen grubber hit the post and was quickly booted dead by Josh Reynolds to give the Knights their first dropout of the day. However, the Bulldogs stayed strong on their line.
Newcastle’s Dane Gagai made some easy metres to get his team some field position and they didn’t disappoint. James McManus scored a try in the corner after some quick hands to level the scores after 24 minutes of play.
Des Hasler made his first change, with ‘Dogzilla’ Sam Kasiano injected into the game with 14 minutes left to play in the second half. However, Newcastle weren’t worried, forcing repeat sets and a second goal line dropout.
Sam Perrett made the first line break of the match with just under 5 minutes left in the first half and the Bulldogs converted it into points. Tony Williams made a break and pass to Kasiano on the inside who went over for his first try of the season. Hodkinson nailed the conversion and the Bulldogs led 10-4 at half time.
Back from the break and Newcastle kicked the ball past the dead ball line on the full. Two repeat sets inside the Knights red-zone and Canterbury were almost in for their 3rd try, but Hodkinson’s cross field kick for Corey Thompson was inches too big.
Newcastle received two sets on the Bulldogs try line and a miracle flick pass from Tyrone Roberts put Robbie Rochow over for a try in the 47th minute. Roberts converted from nearly in front to level the scores again.
Mullen continued to build pressure through his kicking game, forcing a 3rd dropout. The Knights were gifted with an easy penalty goal attempt from 25m out and Roberts kicked it to give his side a 12-10 lead with just under 30 minutes remaining.
Newcastle kicked the ball out on the full to give the Bulldogs some field position. Some poorly executed kicks on last play from the Dogs meant that they couldn’t capitalise.
They finally took back the lead after Canterbury halfback Trent Hodkinson kicked across field for Corey Thompson who batted it back for Aiden Tolman to re-gather and score with 10 minutes remaining. Sharpshooter Hodkinson kicking the conversion to give his side a 16-12 lead
A mistake from Sam Perrett on last play gave Newcastle a repeat set under five minutes remaining. However, the Knights weren’t clinical enough, squandering their chance to win the match and going down by 4 points.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 (Brown, Kasiano, Tolman Tries: Hodkinson 2 goals)
Newcastle Knights 12 (McManus, Rochow Tries: Roberts 3 goals)
At ANZ Stadium