Newcastle Knights 18
Tries:T Sims 1, N Ross 1, K Gidley 1
Goals: K Gidley 1/1, T Roberts 2/2
Canterbury Bulldogs 20
Tries:C Rona 1, T Lafai 1, D Cook 1, F Pritchard 1
Goals: M Mbye 1, T Lafai 1
In club legend Kurt Gidley’s final home game, a brave Newcastle Knights outfit came within an agonising 2 points of sending their captain out as a winner, as the Bulldogs held on to win 20-18.
With a performance that would leave many viewers questioning how the Knights are stuck on the bottom of the table, the Newcastle side pushed the finals-bound Bulldogs to their very limits. It was the Novocastrians who got onto the scoreboard first, when a Gidley kick bounced away from the Bulldogs and into the hands of Tariq Sims, who dived over in the corner.
Approaching the 20th minute, the Knights were piling a heap of pressure onto the Dogs defensive line, before a wayward Jake Mamo pass was intercepted by Curtis Rona, who raced the length of the field to score his 21st try of the season.
It was the Bulldogs again who were the next to score, as Tim Lafai ran through a gaping hole to score to the right of the goal posts. Trent Hodkinson was the man to deliver the ball to Lafai, however only seconds later he was leaving the field of his future home ground, with a season ending wrist injury.
Canterbury continued to battle on without their NSW representative halfback, and it was another member of the Bulldogs ‘spine’ who stood up to extend their lead. Fill in hooker Damien Cook continued his brilliant form in just his second NRL game this season, as he scooted from dummy half at halfway and showed tremendous pace to beat noted speedster Jake Mamo to the corner.
In the absence of their goal kicker Hodkinson, the Dogs were unable to add the two points from the sideline, and as a result the sides went to the halftime break with the Bulldogs leading 14-6.
The Knights needed to be the first to score in the second half, and they did just that when Nathan Ross spectacularly dived on a perfectly weighted Tyrone Roberts grubber before the dead ball line.
There was now just 2 points in it, so Bulldogs giant Frank Pritchard took matters into his own hands, as he threw a massive dummy to slide over near the left corner.
With only ten minutes left of the match and the Knights needing to desperately score to remain in the game, it was no other than Kurt Gidley playing game 250 who crashed his way through two defenders to score what will go down as one of the most memorable tries in his career. Gidley added the extras on his own try, leaving the Bulldogs with a narrow two point lead.
Unfortunately for Gidley and the Knights, the fairytale ended there, as the Dogs were able to hang on tightly in the dying minutes, however the Newcastle club and supporters would surely be happy with the effort and grit that was displayed.