The nib Newcastle Knights were defeated 20-18 by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday afternoon.
In the late mail, Brock Lamb teamed up in the halves with Trent Hodkinson, while Mickey Paea played his first NRL match for the season.
Scrambling defence from Newcastle kept them within two in the first half and despite an impressive show by the Mata’utia brothers, the Bulldogs snatched victory in the dying minutes.
The Bulldogs’ Kerrod Holland found space out wide to record the home side’s first point in the 7th minute. The winger converted his own to try for the Bulldogs to lead 6-0.
In the 15th minute, Knights fullback Nathan Ross came up with a try saving tackle on Aiden Tolman before Josh Morris almost got the Bulldogs' second but a no try was ruled by the bunker.
A penalty off the ball saw Holland kick for the two points to increase the home side's lead 8-0 after 33 minutes.
In the final minute before half time, the Knights got their first via Peter Mata’utia. Trent Hodkinson added the extras and the Knights went into the break trailing 8-6.
In the second half, an offside penalty saw the Knights kick for goal in the 48th minute and level the scores 8-all.
In the 53rd minute, a perfect pass by Hodkinson set up Chanel Mata’utia to score out wide in his first NRL match since 2015. The Knights took the lead 12-8.
Off a repeat set, Pete Mata’utia recorded a double in the 61st minute and stretched the margin 18-8.
With five minutes to play, the Bulldogs’ hit back when Marcelo Montoya dived over on the right side to get the home side within four points.
With just under two minutes to play, a 60-metre try by Moses Mbye levelled the scores 18-all before Holland's conversion put the Bulldogs in front by two.
As the final siren sounded, a penalty was awarded to the Knights but Brock Lamb was unable to land the kick for the Bulldogs to claim a 20-18 win.
Newcastle Knights 18 (T: P Mata’utia 2, C Mata’utia, G: Hodkinson 2/3, P: Hodkinson 1/1, Lamb 0/1)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20 (T: Holland, Montoya, Mbye, G: Holland 3/3, P: 1)