It was Old Boys Day and it was Kurt Gidley’s final game at Hunter Stadium, but the Newcastle Knights couldn’t quite get over the line against a determined Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs side, losing 20-18 on Saturday night.
23,604 red and blue fans packed into Hunter Stadium to see off their skipper, and the team, which lined-up with two late changes, put in a spirited performance.
Gidley himself was a standout for the Knights in his Hunter Stadium swansong, guiding the team around the park and scoring a late solo try.
Thanks to two penalties in quick succession the Bulldogs looked hot favourites to score first points, but the red and blues defended on their try-line with a tenacity that would have made the Old Boys proud.
With 13 minutes played Tariq Sims then scored a try that would make any winger proud, latching onto a Gidley chip to dive over in the left corner. Gidley then did brilliantly to convert from the sideline.
Seven minutes later the Knights were pressing in attack only for Curtis Rona to intercept and run 90 metres to score. Hodkinson missed his kick from out wide, but five minutes later the Bulldogs were over again when centre Tim Lafai ran onto a Hodkinson pass to score.
With eight minutes until half time the away side made it three tries, Damien Cook proving too fast from dummy-half when he ran 30 metres for a try. Moses Mbye’s attempted conversion was well off the mark, but his side still had an eight-point lead heading into the break.
Early in the second half Mbye put a kick out on the full, and while the Knights couldn’t score from that opportunity Josh Morris was held up in-goal from a Tyrone Roberts kick to give the Novocastrians another bite at the cherry.
Again the Knights couldn’t capitalise, but five minutes later things finally clicked into gear when Roberts slotted a grubber through the line that Nathan Ross somehow managed to ground before it went dead. Roberts added the extras to push the score to 14-12.
Soon after fullback Jake Mamo looked to have scored beneath the uprights from a kick, but video replays showed that he had knocked the ball on in the build up.
With 18 minutes left on the clock the Bulldogs pushed their lead back out to eight points, Frank Pritchard shrugging through his markers to score and Mbye making the conversion.
The Knights were struggling for a foothold back into the game until none other than Gidley dummied his way through the line to score his 80th try for the Club. It was a brilliant moment from the soon-to-be departing skipper, and Roberts converted to bring the margin down to two points with eight remaining.
Unfortunately from there on the Knights couldn’t find any more points, the final score 20-18.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20 (T: Rona, Lafai, Cook, Pritchard, G: Hodkinson 0/1, Mbye 1/2, Lafai 1/1)
Newcastle Knights 18 (T: T Sims, Ross, Gidley, G: Gidley 1/1, Roberts 2/2)