It was a heartbreaking 22-12 loss for the nib Newcastle Knights as they couldn’t overcome a spirited Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
With several late changes, it was an action packed first half. Leaping Nathan Ross opened the Knights account but four disallowed tries hurt the red and blue, and even an attacking masterclass from Dane Gagai wasn't enough as the Bulldogs found success out wide.
Early in the piece captain Trent Hodkinson kicked a pinpoint grubber to pacey winger Nathan Ross, but without downward pressure the bunker denied the try.
A penalty 10 metres from the line then allowed Newcastle to get first points on the board, Hodkinson kicking right through the middle of the posts to lead 2-0 just before the 15 minute mark.
In the 20th minute, the crowd came alive when centimetre-perfect kicking by Hodkinson landed in the hands of an airborne Ross to slam it down in the left corner.
The Knights were unable to keep the visitors scoreless for the first half though, as the Bulldogs crossed over seconds before the siren via Brenko Lee. Moses Mbye wasn't able to convert though, and the Knights led the Bulldogs 6-4 at half time.
After the break, it wasn't the ideal start for the home side as the Bulldogs’ Matt Frawley dodged the defence for a try down the middle before the visitors went back-to-back, Marcelo Montoya handing the Bulldogs their third.
It was deja vu son after, as the Knights got across the line thanks to the fancy footwork of Gagai but again it was ruled a no try with Sione Mata’utia deemed to have impeded the defence.
65 minutes in, a sweeping high pass by Bulldogs’ Frawley handed Josh Morris the ball out wide for a try before a 40 metre sprint from Brock Lamb saw him pass to Gagai to score and get the Knights within six.
But it wasn’t to be, when Sione Mata’utia crashed over the line. The try again disallowed before the Bulldogs spoiled the ending with a final try from Montoya for the Bulldogs to win 22-12.
Newcastle Knights: 12 (T: Ross, Gagai G: Hodkinson 1/2, PG: Hodkinson 1/1)
Canterbury-Banstown Bulldogs: 22 (T: Lee, Frawley, Montoya 2, Morris, G: Mbye 1/3, Elliot 0/2)