The Newcastle Knights made a remarkable second half comeback to defeat the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 35-34 at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday.
The Knights trailed the Bulldogs for the majority of the match before a spree of tries late in the second half narrowed the home team's lead.
Minutes from fulltime, a field goal from five-eighth Carlos Tuimavave gave the Knights a one-point lead to steal a win.
Sam Mataora crossed the line in the first half before Kerrod Holland nailed the kick with the Bulldogs also answering with a try to Jaline Graham.
The Bulldogs took control of the game and were firing down the right edge putting winger Phillips over for a double.
Soon after, hooker Damien Cook crossed close to the posts with Stanley’s conversion extending the home team’s lead to 24-6 leading into the half time break.
It looked like the Bulldogs were to run the same course in the second half when Phillips scored a hat trick early on.
But the second stanza couldn’t have been more different than the opening 40 minutes of the match.
Around 10 minutes into the second half a melee broke out in back play which resulted in two players on each team being sent to the sin-bin.
Both teams were stretched in defence with the Bulldogs capitalising on space created after a Knights error.
Winger Tyrone Phillips grounded it in the corner off a carefully angled kick from the fullback Graham. The Bulldogs’ stand-in goal kicker, Dodd was unable to make the conversion from the sideline.
The Knights were now behind by 26 points and were hungry to seize any opportunity with the ball.
A powerful run by Ken Tofilau put the Knights in close proximity to the line which allowed fullback Nathan Ross to draw players from a dummy half run and barge over for the Knights’ second try.
Holland’s kick was successful.
From this point the game, became both teams struggled with ball control and set completion making for messy play.
The Knights had the ball back in their hands after a Bulldogs error, yet a clumsy mistake on their line resulted in a loose ball gifting the Bulldogs an easy try before Stanley converted from in front.
Here sparked determination and drive in the reserve grade Knights’ side.
The Knights worked the ball out left before Tuimavave targeted a short ball to Lachlan Fitzgibbon to put him through a hole. He charged 30 metres to score.
Holland nailed the kick from the sideline.
Back on the half way line after a Bulldogs’ dropout, half back Jaelen Feeney ran a nice line onto a Pat Vaivai ball skillfully slipping through the Bulldogs’ defensive line to score. Holland converted the try.
Momentum was definitely building and the left edge was again the place where the Knights were targeting their attack.
Off the dropout, a classy cutout ball was collected by winger Ken Tofilau who turned back inside to find a charging Joe Tapine who scored. This time Holland’s kick waved away.
Clever footwork from Feeney saw him step around his defenders to crash over beside the posts but was held up.
With the ball again on the left edge, Fitzgibbon used sheer strength to drag his defenders over the line with him for another try with Holland adding the extras.
With the score now level and just minutes on the clock, Tuimavave worked himself into good field position and slotted a carefully timed field goal to give the Knights a one point lead.
Knights 35 (T: Fitzgibbon 2, Ross, Holland, Mataora, Tapine, G: Holland 5/6, FG: Tuimavave)
Bulldogs 34 (T: Phillips 3, Graham, Cook, Clark, G: Stanley 5/6)