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3 days ago
The Canterbury Bulldogs have stolen victory from the jaws of defeat with a 20-18 victory in Josh Reynolds' farewell game at Belmore Sports Ground in front of a bumper crowd.
The first half could hardly be described as quality, with the arguably one of the worst 40 minute periods seen in 2017 - the Bulldogs dominating field position and possession, but their finishing across the opening half was absolutely atrocious, especially after the crispness they showed to score the opening four pointer through Kerrod Holland, who had space on the outside after some nice catch and pass play from the home team.
From there, the Dogs play became lacklustre and predictable, and despite making five line-breaks to the Knights one in the opening half, it took a penalty goal in the 35th minute for the Bulldogs to add more points to the board. Right on the stroke of halftime Peter Mata'utia showed a piece of footballing intelligence when he took a quick tap 11 metres from the Bulldogs' line, crossing for the Knights' first try which was followed by the conversion to Trent Hodkinson - and at halftime the margin was just two points.
The second half quickly turned into the unwanted for the Bulldogs with more poor attack, but it was the swing in possession and momentum for the Knights which included Trent Hodkinson levelling the scores inside the first 10 minutes of the second half after a penalty goal.
The Knights' effort was truly a Mata'utia show, with Chanel Mata'utia taking the Knights to the lead when he was on the end of a good ball from Trent Hodkinson to cross for his first try in over two years. A missed conversion from Trent Hodkinson could've been a telling factor with just the four points added. Brother Peter then took his second and the Knights looked solid, with the centre chasing through a Hodkinson grubber to score and after the bunker approval, the Knights led 18-8.
Hope was fading for the Bulldogs but inside the last five minutes - where so many games have been decided this season - Marcelo Montoya flew for the north east corner and got it down, and with a quick conversion hope was there for the Bulldogs if Holland could nail it... and he did!
A smart piece of play became very dumb from the Knights when Brock Lamb kicked for the sideline at the end of a set in the 79th minute, but the ball only found the feet of Moses Mbye who picked it up and raced 75m to score the apparent match winner, Canterbury ahead by two after Kerrod Holland's conversion from mid range with just seconds left.
Josh Reynolds almost became a villain on the day he was supposed to be a hero, after he was ruled to have taken out a Knights chaser from the short kickoff immediately after, meaning Brock Lamb had a penalty attempt to force the game to golden point. The kick was one Lamb would want to forget, with a pure shank off the boot that never looked close to going near the posts, and that was the game for the Bulldogs, stealing a 20-18 victory.
Both sides unusually have their next match both against the Broncos, the Bulldogs in two weeks after the bye at Suncorp Stadium whilst the Knights host the Broncos next weekend at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20 - Newcastle Knights 18
Venue: Belmore Sports Ground
Halftime Score: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8 Newcastle Knights 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Peter Mata'utia
2 points - Aiden Tolman
1 points - Raymond Faitala-Mariner
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (20)
Tries: Kerrod Holland, Marcelo Montoya, Moses Mbye
Conversions: Kerrod Holland (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Kerrod Holland (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (18)
Tries: Peter Mata'utia (2), Chanel Mata'utia
Conversions: Trent Hodkinson (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Trent Hodkinson (1/1), Brock Lamb (0/1)