A strong early effort from the Knights was not enough to withstand a Bulldogs comeback, where new-comer Matt Frawley led his team to a 22-12 vicotry in Newcastle. The Knights now fall to five losses for the season, while the Bulldogs grab their third win in 2017.
Try gives the Dogs’ momentum
If anyone ever doubted the change of momentum for a team scoring just before half time, your doubt will be cured. The try scored by Brenko Lee seconds before the hooter was the turning point in the game. The Knights had no trouble in controlling the game early on, and even with less possession in the first half, they still looked more menacing on attack than the Dogs. What was nearly a try to Newcastle quickly turned around and saw the Bulldogs have an attacking set. A great offload from Josh Jackson set up an overlap, and ensured the Bulldogs would not be scoreless in the first half of three straight games. More importantly, the Bulldogs from then seemed to have control of the game, and the Knights never seemed to threaten their line. Four unanswered tries were helped by the work of Frawley, who set one up after scoring his own. It was not a perfect performance in the second half but it was clinical when it needed to be for Canterbury.
Taking positives is all you can do
As much as the Knights were never expected to have a great season, simply taking positives and moving on is not easy by a long stretch. Form the first six rounds they are clearly very competitive. The Knights have been within 6 points in three of their five losses this year, and aside from the Penrith blowout, have not looked like a rubbish team who may as well give up. Taking positives from losses is good, and having a solid defensive line with some electrifying attack at times is great, but if you are constantly losing it is not, but that is an unfortunate reality right now for Nathan Brown’s men. A great set of veteran players like Hodkinson, Gagai, Buhrer, Kostjasyn and Starling, mixed with great young talent like the Mata’utia brothers means the Knights certainly have the resources to succeed far beyond what they produced last season. Logically a few wins should come, but the team needs to keep being positive and move forward.
Frawley could be Dogs’ missing spark
Frawley was brought on to replace a concussed Brad Abbey, moving Moses Mbye to the centres and Josh Morris to the wing. Mbye previously was having a pretty ordinary game along with Reynolds, and the Dogs were looking like a boring team that we are used to so far in 2017. Matt Frawley though managed to score a try that gave the Dogs the lead in the second half, and from their he seemed contempt in the halfback positon. What Frawley managed to do that the Dogs’ current halves have not is create opportunities, and find a good kicking game. Through two games he has kicked 562 total metres, with 109 against the Knights, and managed to take on the line with a lot of purpose. His ball in hand was good, setting up a glorious try for Josh Morris as well. He is no Cooper Cronk, but Frawley’s work so far should settle a few nerves at Canterbury if he can continue to improve.
Gagai leading the Knights’ backline
Among the bleakness of the Knights the last two seasons, Dane Gagai stands as the silver lining at the moment. Gagai should be in line for an Origin start with his season so far, highlighted by a brilliant performance on Friday. Gagai’s huge run where he broke five tackles was mirrored by his try in the 69th minute, where he fended off Brett Morris impressively to score. Gagai led his team in total run metres with 228, while adding a season high 2 line breaks as well as 6 tackle busts. His versatility means he can move around the backline, proving to be an asset for both Newcastle and Queensland. The Maroons have a mountain of depth, but Gagai’s performance reminds Kevin Walters of how strong he can be with the ball in hand, and even prime him for a larger role come May.
Tries: Lee (40m), Frawley (41m), Montoya (2) (51m, 80m), J. Morris (65m)
Goals: Mbye 1/5
Tries: Ross (21m), Gagai (69m)
Goals: Hodkinson 2/3