Matt Attard reviews the Bulldogs notching up just their second victory of the year, despite a fightback from the undermanned Newcastle Knights. Here’s how the game went.
|11th||Try Aiden Tolman (Canterbury-Bankstown)||Canterbury-Bankstown 4-0|
|13th||Goal Nick Meaney (Canterbury-Bankstown)||Canterbury-Bankstown 6-0|
|42nd||Try Raymond Faitala-Mariner (Canterbury-Bankstown)||Canterbury-Bankstown 10-0|
|42nd||Goal Jake Averillo (Canterbury-Bankstown)||Canterbury-Bankstown 12-0|
|47th||Try Jake Averillo (Canterbury-Bankstown)||Canterbury-Bankstown 16-0|
|49th||Goal Jake Averillo (Canterbury-Bankstown)||Canterbury-Bankstown 18-0|
|60th||Try Hymel Hunt (Newcastle)||Canterbury-Bankstown 18-4|
|61st||Goal Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle)||Canterbury-Bankstown 18-6|
|68th||Try Sione Mata’utia (Newcastle)||Canterbury-Bankstown 18-10|
|70th||Goal Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle)||Canterbury-Bankstown 18-12|
Torrential rain fell all afternoon in Newcastle, meaning it was a battle of ball control as the Knights aimed to catapult into the top four.
The Bulldogs were buoyed by a week of positive signing news, but they were still heavy underdogs.
Errors aplenty were on the cards early on for the home side, despite a Bradman Best line break, while the Bulldogs struggled to offer up anything in attack.
Surprisingly it was Aiden Tolman who opened the scoring on the back of a fourth tackle grubber kick.
At the 20-minute mark the Bulldogs had completed nine from 10 sets before Jake Averillo let another try go begging, unable to ground the free ball in the in goal.
In comparison the Knights had made six errors, failing to mount any pressure in awful conditions.
Andrew McCullough awkwardly fell making a tackle, doing the splits and suffering a possible ruptured hamstring the process.
Minutes later his replacement, Connor Watson, was carried from the field with an Achilles injury as the Bulldogs clung to a 6-0 lead on the back of a 100 per cent completion rate.
Kieran Foran controlled the game well and despite a drop in errors the Knights weren’t able to crack the Bulldogs before halftime.
The second half is usually where the Bulldogs fail to impress but a Kalyn Ponga error gifted the Bulldogs a shot at the line and the recently re-signed Raymond Faitala-Mariner crashed over for a try.
Averillo took over the kicking from Nick Meaney and slotted it for a 12-0 lead.
As the rain fell heavier, the perfect completion rate of the Bulldogs came to an end when Meaney dropped a bomb.
Newcastle were their own worst enemy as they failed to hold the pill in the very next set.
A one-on-one strip by Sione Katoa gave the Bulldogs another chance to score points and Averillo made no mistake this time, grounding a Lachlan Lewis grubber and converting for a stunning 18-0 lead.
Tautau Moga bounced a grubber just before the dead ball line in his side’s best chance of the afternoon as the Bulldogs executed wet weather football to perfection, as the Knights marched past double figures in the error charts with 25 minutes still to play.
Finally Newcastle troubled the scoreboard with a flick pass from Moga sending Hymel Hunt over. Ponga converted to reduce the gap to 12.
That try appeared to rattle the visitors as they failed to march up field, while the Knights seemed energised.
Set after set the Bulldogs were unable to march out of their own half, leading to a multitude of chances for the home side.
Pasami Saulo went close but came up short before a kick out on the full gave the Knights a chance – and they took it with Sione Mata’utia crashing over from close range.
Ponga’s conversion had them behind by one converted try with nine minutes to play.
The Bulldogs could see the game slipping from their grasp as the errors dried up and the Knights looked likely.
A Ponga grubber went agonisingly close to pulling up but the ensuing seven-tackle set saw the Bulldogs enter the Newcastle half for the first time in 25 minutes.
Ultimately the courageous comeback fell short for the Knights, while the Bulldogs finally gave their fans a reason to smile.
The Bulldogs’ perfect completion rate in the first half set up their 6-0 halftime lead. They went to the sheds having completed every set in the first half, an incredible effort in horrible conditions and considering their previous record of leaking points to top eight teams. They didn’t make a mistake until early in the second half, when they led 12-0.
Newcastle Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Tautau Moga 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 17. Sione Mata’utia 15. Mitchell Barnett. Interchange: 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Herman Ese’ese 14. Connor Watson 16. Pasami Saulo.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs: 1. Nick Meaney 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Jake Averillo 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Luke Thompson. Interchange: 14. Brandon Wakeham 15. Sione Katoa 16. Renouf To’omaga 17. Ofahiki Ogden.