Canterbury Bulldogs held off a spirited Newcastle Knights to gain an 22-12 victory, scoring five tries to the Knights two today at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Jamie Buhrer started at hooker for the Knights with Danny Levi moving to the bench and former Huddersfield Giants star Joe Wardle coming into the second row. Luke Yates was added to the bench with Sam Stone dropping out of the 17.
Halfback Matt Frawley was added to the bench for the Bulldogs with Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Reimis Smith dropping out of the squad.
The Knights took an early lead when Sione Mata’utai earned a penalty after being held by Michael Lichaa and Trent Hodkinson kicked the goal for the first points of the game.
The Knights extended their lead to six points when Hodkinson kicked high into the corner for Nathan Ross to take the ball and plant it over the line.
The Bulldogs finally got on the scoreboard seconds before half-time, when Brett Morris fed Brenko Lee after a great run by Marcelo Montoya. Moses Mbye missed the conversion and the Knights went in at half-time with a two-point lead.
Matt Frawley, who had come off the bench, dived through three defenders early in the second half for his first NRL try, with Mbye’s conversion giving the Bulldogs a four-point lead and it was extended to 6-14 when Montoya touched down in the corner
The Knights’ Dane Gagai had a try disallowed for obstruction and when Josh Morris scored in the corner off a long, pinpoint Frawley pass, giving a 6-18 lead, it looked over for the Knights.
However, Gagai’s try on 70 minutes, goaled by Hodkinson, put them back to a six-point deficit, and they thought they had scored again when Sione Mata’utai appeared to score but was adjudged by the bunker to have lost the ball in what looked like a tough call.
The Bulldogs sealed victory in the final minute when Montoya went over for his second try on the wing after great play by Josh Reynolds.
Knights: 1 Brendan Elliot, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Dane Gagai, 4 Peter Mata’utia, 5 Nathan Ross, 6 Brock Lamb, 7 Trent Hodkinson (c), 8 Jack Stockwell, 12 Jamie Buhrer, 10 Josh Starling, 11 Sione Mata’utia, 16 Joe Wardle, 13 Mitchell Barnett; Interchange: 9 Danny Levi, 15 Anthony Tupou, 17 Daniel Saifiti, 19 Luke Yates.
Bulldogs: 1 Brad Abbey, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Brenko Lee, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Josh Reynolds, 7 Moses Mbye, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 James Graham (c), 11 Josh Jackson, 12 Greg Eastwood, 13 David Klemmer; Interchange: 14 Sam Kasiano, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Adam Elliot, 20 Matt Frawley.
A full review of all the weekend’s NRL action will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express