The Newcastle Knights were beaten 28-14 by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Hunter Stadium in Women in League Round.
The final score did not reflect what was a relatively balanced game, with the young Knights holding their own against a finals-bound Bulldogs team for the majority of the match.
Both Jake Mamo and Dane Gagai were strong contributors for the Knights, Mamo racking up 139 metres from fullback and Gagai 117 in the centres.
With several late changes, the Knights did well to absorb plenty of early pressure from the Bulldogs with several repeat sets, and it paid off in the 11th minute when the travelling team coughed up possession near the halfway line. A penalty soon after gave the Knights first points, as Trent Hodkinson called for the kicking tee and slotted it.
The Bulldogs got their first points 19 minutes before half time, Moses Mbye running the ball from dummy-half and then passing short for hooker Michael Lichaa to get over the line. Mbye converted to make the score 6-2, and things got worse for the Knights as Nathan Ross was forced from the field with a hamstring injury.
The Bulldogs were over again four minutes later, centre Josh Morris being awarded the try despite it looking as though he may have lost possession. Mbye again converted, but then in the following set the Bulldogs dropped the ball 15 metres out.
It looked as though the Knights would score when Danny Levi put Josh King through a hole five metres out from the line, but King couldn’t get his hands around the ball.
Four minutes from half time the Bulldogs kicked a penalty goal of their own to push the score to 14-2, but things started getting better for the Knights two minutes into the second half when Hodkinson kicked a 40-20.
At the end of the next set Hodkinson earned a repeat set from a clever kick, and then some magic from the returning Jarrod Mullen got the Knights their first try. He bounced out of one tackle to run further wide and offload to Brendan Elliot, cutting out several defenders for the winger to dive over in the corner untouched.
Things got even better for the Knights two minutes later, Hodkinson placing a deep kick that the Bulldogs defence couldn’t deal with. Elliot was quickest to react, seizing on the scraps to run ten metres and score. Hodkinson converted to bring the score to 14-all.
Things turned sour in the 55th minute though as Mullen’s kick was charged down by James Graham. The ball went flying back 20 metres, and Mullen’s attempt to scoop it up was thrown off by a chasing Graham. Mbye was there to pick up the pieces, grabbing the ball to run five metres and score.
Nine minutes from time the Bulldogs extended their lead when Mamo was penalised ten metres out for a ruck infringement. Mbye elected for the penalty goal, and made the score 22-14.
Three minutes from time the Bulldogs got over the line again despite what looked like a certain forward pass. It was Sam Perrett that grounded the ball, and Mbye’s conversion was on target to make the final score 28-14.
Knights 14 (T: Elliot 2, G: Hodkinson 2/2, P: Hodkinson 1/1)
Bulldogs 28 (T: Lichaa, J Morris, Mbye, Perrett, G: Mybe 3/4, P: 2/2)