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The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have gone down to the Newcastle Knights 32-16 at McDonalds Jones stadium in the first game of the 2021 season.

The opening game of the year saw five Canterbury players make their club debut, while 26-year old Brad Deitz played his first NRL game.

Club Jersey Presentation: Round 1 v Knights

The Bulldogs were on the board early when winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dived over in the corner after collecting a brilliant long ball from half Kyle Flanagan to give the visitors an early 4-0 lead.

The Knights responded with a four pointer of their own when Daniel Saifiti split the Dogs defence and scored next to the post from a Mitchell Pearce short ball. Mitch Barnett converted the try to lead 6-4, before adding a further two points in the 14th minute thanks to a penalty conversion.

Kyle Flanagan again provided the pass to the Bulldogs second try when a short ball found Adam Elliott who spun out of Newcastle’s defence and find his way to the try line. Flanagan converted and Canterbury led 10-8.

Newcastle added their second and third tries of the match in the 31st and 38th minutes through Starford To'a and Mitch Barnett to lead 18-10 at the break.

The Knights continued to apply points to the scoreboard in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, adding a further two tries with Saifiti grabbing his second of the match and rookie centre Bradman Best collecting the other four-pointer.

Back-rower Barnett converted both tries and added another penalty goal, before Bulldogs winger Watene-Zelezniak collected a late try in the 77th minute to hand him an early season double.

Flanagan converted from the sideline, but the home side were too strong and claimed a 32-16 win.