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2021 NRL Round 23, Bulldogs 16 Knights 22 – Report

Chloe Schibeci reviews this vital clash between Canterbury-Bankstown and Newcastle, with the Knights needing a win to make the finals. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Bulldogs 16

Tries: Nick Meaney (44), Ryan James (69), Jayden Okunbor (79)

Goals: Kyle Flanagan (45, 71)

Knights 22

Tries: Jacob Saifiti (10), Enari Tuala (25), Jake Clifford (57), Bradman Best (61)

Goals: Jake Clifford (11, 58, 62)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Connor Watson (Newcastle Knights)
2 pts – Mitchell Pearce (Newcastle Knights)
1 pt – Ryan James (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

The Knights put points on the board first, less than 10 minutes into the game; however, upon review by the Bunker, Hymel Hunt’s points were taken off him after finding his foot was out of the field of play when he grounded the ball. 

Despite this, the Knights didn’t take long to redeem themselves and score their first try of the night, as Jacob Saifiti crossed for the opening points. 

A second try for the Knights came just over half way through the first half, with Enari Tuala scoring an unconverted try, expanding Newcastle’s lead to 10 points. 

The majority of the first half saw both sides defending their line, keeping the score low. Both sides had opportunities to score more points in the first half; however, neither team could break through the opposition’s defence. 

The Bulldogs came close to scoring; however, it was taken off them with just 10 minutes remaining in the first half. This would have been a perfect opportunity for them to gain momentum to build on in the second half, but, alas, Corey Allen’s try was disallowed. 

The Knights held onto their 10-point lead at the end of the first half. 

HALF-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 Newcastle Knights 10

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2nd Half

The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time going into the second half, determined to get points on the board and push their way into the game. Nick Meaney scored after just five minutes of play. The Knights led by just four points, and the Bulldogs were looking stronger by the minute.

The defence of the Bulldogs continued to build, while simultaneously looking more determined in attack. No points were scored to prove this, but they were putting in quite strong efforts. Meanwhile, the Knights were also looking determined, wanting to cling onto their four-point lead and then extend said lead. 

A gap in the goal-line defence from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs allowed the Knights to sneak in their third try of the night: Jake Clifford scoring and converting the try to take Newcastle’s lead back out to 10 points. 

Capitalising on this, the Newcastle Knights found themselves even further ahead after a slick pass to Bradman Best, who further extended the lead. While plenty of time remained on the clock, the Bulldogs’ chances of a comeback were looking less likely – hence the desperation kicking in. 

With just 10 minutes left in the game, Ryan James scored for the Bulldogs. The margin was once again narrowed to just 10 points. 

In a last-ditch attempt to score more points, the Bulldogs’ Jayden Okunbor scored an incredible try, catching and planting the ball just before the dead-ball line. A failed conversion meant the Bulldogs were just six points behind with 30 seconds.

FULL-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 Newcastle Knights 22

Injuries

to be advised

Match Review Committee

to be advised

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