The Newcastle Knights’ Canterbury Cup side’s late momentum surge proved too-little-too-late, as the Bulldogs claimed a 20-18 win at ANZ Stadium.
Boosted by the inclusion of second rower Corey Harawira-Naera, Canterbury were able to hold off a gallant Newcastle side as they maintained their lead to gain a crucial two points.
It took just over 15 minutes for the visitors to open the scoring after a slow start, through hooker Christopher Randall, who crossed over off the back of a grubber near the line.
Canterbury were quick to respond though, through a short-side dummy-half pass from Michael Lichaa to Isaiah Tass, who crossed near the corner just five minutes after the opening try.
Kerrod Holland was unsuccessful in his attempt to level the game, keeping the Knights two in front.
Corey Harawira-Naera then followed up with the Dogs’ second try shortly after, barging through the Newcastle defence to put Canterbury in the lead.
Holland was able to convert this time, sending the Bulldogs four in front.
As half time loomed, the Bulldogs were looking more threatening and continual pressure seemed too much for the Knights to handle.
Isaiah Tass extended the Dogs’ lead as a Nu Brown bomb close to the line landed back down for halfback Lachlan Lewis, who began the spread for the winger to cross over for his second.
The Bulldogs were able to withhold late pressure from the Knights to hold their 14-6 lead at the break.
The second half action began rather quicker than the first, with the Dogs increasing their lead through Renouf To’omaga, who broke the Newcastle line to score just next to the posts.
An easy conversion for Kerrod Holland extended the Dogs’ lead to 20-6.
The Knights were able to respond through Mitchell Andrews, who ran through a gaping hole in the Bulldogs’ defence, to halve the home side’s lead, before Mason Lino cut it down further to just an eight-point deficit.
The Knights looked determined to reduce the Dogs’ lead as they were gaining momentum, however Justin Worley was denied brilliantly by Kerrod Holland after looking certain to score off a well-placed kick by Mason Lino.
This wouldn't dishearten the winger or the Newcastle side, as Worley went over in the corner shortly after to reduce the margin to four points, before Lino converted yet again to make it a two-point ball game.
A late surge from Newcastle couldn't prove the difference in a thrilling game, as the Bulldogs side claiming their 7th win of the season.
Bulldogs 20 (Tass 2, Harawira-Naera, To'omaga Convs. Holland 2) def. Knights 18 (Randall, Andrews & Worley Convs. Lino 3)