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The Newcastle Knights have pulled off an upset to knock the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs off the top of the ladder with a 20-6 victory in front of 21,701 crowd at ANZ stadium.
The Knights produced a flawless effort in defence to dominate the contest. The game started with some big tackles with the Bulldogs struggling to maintain possession and the Knights capitalising on early errors. Six minutes in, Kade Snowden linked up with his prop forward partner Richard Fa'aoso to send him over. Captain Kurt Gidley converted to try to give his side a six-point lead.
Possession always proves crucial to coming up trumps in Rugby League and today was no different. With the swing of possession on their side the Knights were able to add even more points in 17th minute with halfback Jarrod Mullen slicing through the Canterbury defence and diving over to score.
The Knights gave coach Wayne Bennett plenty to smile about as the match progressed, with a mammoth defensive effort ensuring the Bulldogs remained scoreless in the first half. For the Bulldogs however, Des Hasler was given little reason to smile following a mistake riddled first half from his side.
The home side did not get off to a much better start in the second half with Englishmen James Graham giving away an early penalty. The Knights opted to go for the two and Gidley had no problems kicking the goal.
With a 14 point lead the Knights appeared more concerned with defending their lead than adding to it, however, when the points were on offer the Knights were ready to take them with Alex McKinnon breezing through a gap in the 72nd minute courtesy of a Gidley offload. Gidley added the extras to give the Knights a 20-point lead.
After a relatively quite 75 minutes Ben Barba put his mark on the game, the fullback produced some fancy footwork to set up Joel Romelo. Steve Turner added the extras to reduce the Knights' lead to 14.
The Bulldogs will look to hit back stronger when they travel to Skilled Park to meet the lacklustre Gold Coast Titans. Meanwhile a mission-impossible to some when the Melbourne Storm open AAMI Park to the Knights on Friday Night.
Canterbury Bulldogs 6 were defeated by Newcastle Knights 20
National Rugby League - Round 4 - Sunday March 25, 2012 3:00pm
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Referee: Ben Cummins and Phil Haines
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Adam Reid and Grant Atkins
Halftime: Canterbury Bulldogs 12 Newcastle Knights 0
CANTERBURY BULLDOGS (6)
Tries: Joel Romelo
Conversions: Steve Turner (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (20)
Tries: Jarrod Mullen, Richard Fa'aoso, Alex McKinnon
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Kurt Gidley (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Join the conversation - follow LeagueUnlimited on Twitter and tweet about the match using the Official Hashtag = #NRLcbynew.
You can also discuss the match with thousands of other fans in our Game Day Forums - click here. Good afternoon League Lovers. Welcome to this second match of NRL Sunday live from ANZ Stadium. The Bulldogs will search for their forth straight victory, while the Knights will look to get back on track with a win today.
Earlier in Toyota Cup action, the Knights got the points over the Bulldogs 32-20.
Team news in for both sides, the home side, the Bulldogs are as per the team sheet 1 through 17. Meanwhile the visitors, the Knights have a host of changes.
A cosmetic change with Timana Tahu (4) swapping jerseys with Junior Sau (3). A surprise inclusion in the Knights line up is captain Kurt Gildey (19) making a return from a disallowed shoulder. Akuila Uate is out injured with Kevin Naiqama (20) replacing him. Front-rower Adam Cuthbertson also is out with Richard Fa'aoso getting a start from the bench. Neville Costigan takes a bench spot as Alex McKinnon starting at Lock. Therefore the bench reads, Costigan, Matt Hilder, Joel Edwards, and Zane Tetavano (18) added to the squad.
Kick off is around 10 minutes away here at an overcast ANZ Stadium.
1 min: Both sides on the park and awaiting the kick off. The Bulldogs will be kicking off to get us started here on NRL Sunday
2 min: Good opening sets from both sides, end to end stuff. Each set is completed with kicks downfield. Defensive will be at a high quality today.
3 min: Jarrod Mullen with a 4th tackle downfield and it rolls dead over the touchline. Bulldogs get and win the scrum feed on their 35 metres line.
4 min: Ben Barba looking worse for wear after his hit up. Knights however on the attack deep in their own half.
5 min: KNOCK ON! Kasiano giving up the possession and the Knights with a big chance on the Bulldogs line. The scrum packs just inside the Bulldogs half.
6 min: TRY
Wonderful work from the prop forward as they linked together. Snowden stepping and passing on the inside to Fa'aoso crashes over the line for first points. Gildey no issue with the conversion.
Newcastle Knights 6-0
9 min: Knights with a scrum feed on the Bulldogs 10 metre line.Another chance to add points.
10 min: KNOCK ON! Knights looking for a hole in the line, but the defensive forcing McManus getting the ball on the line.
11 min: Another error for the Bulldogs, the Knights with a scrum feed on the Dogs 20 metre line. Opportunity to add more points early. Defensive will have to be good again to hold them out.
13 min: First penalty against the Knights here. Kick for touch a good one with the Bulldogs a full set on the Knights 30 metre line.
14 min: Chris Houston diving on the ball in goal saving points being scored against the Knights, but trapped in goals and the Bulldogs get a line drop out.
15 min: Mullen with a kick in goals looking for a runner, not the result they wanted however they get a repeat set with goal line drop out. Another shot at the Bulldogs line here.
17 min: TRY
The possession has been all with the Knights and they are making the Bulldogs pay. Jarrod Mullen from dummy half stepping and diving for the line planting it on the line. Gidley converts.
Newcastle Knights 12-0
20 min: Mullen's kick hitting the uprights before collected by Goodwin and Barba. Bulldogs working it from their line. Yet to have a shot at the Knights goal line.
23 min: Mullen looking for field possession but the kick going well out on the full. Bulldogs should have a good attacking set as they attack on the half way line.
24 min: Bulldogs not able to get the over the goal line, and the Knights leaping and catching it on the line. Quick 20 metre tap for the Knights, adding to the hurt a penalty is given away marching them up field.
26 min: A few questionable passes from the Knights and then now they have turned it over to the Bulldogs with a dropped ball. They attack 40 metres out from the Knights line with a full set.
27 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs for Tahu coming into the tackle after the held call came. Bulldogs on the attack only 20 metres out from the line.
28 min: Bulldogs with a poor bomb on the goal line and easily shut down by Mullen who runs it out for a quick 20 metre tap.
30 min: Scrum feed packing down for the Knights on the Bulldogs 20 metre line. Another shot here for the Newcastle side to add more points.
33 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs for the Knights being inside the 10 metres on the line. Big kick down on their 40 metre line.
34 min: Penalty to the Knights to get them out of their own half, They will have a set on halfway.
35 min: Turn over for the Knights, losing their way with a poor last tackle option. Bulldogs with the play of the ball on their 10 metre line.
36 min: Bulldogs trying a set play with a chip and chase set up for Barba to run through the line, but it was collected by Chris Houston for the Knights. Not much doing in the middle of the park for the Bulldogs.
37 min: A controlling kick from the Knights, forcing the Bulldogs to play it from a scrum feed on their 10 metre line.
38 min: Bulldogs looking for another play off a kick and it doesn't bring up points with the ball taken by Boyd at the back.
38 min: Here comes a chance for the Bulldogs with a forward pass call coming against the Knights. Scrum packs for the Dogs on the 20 metre line.
39 min: Not doing themselves any favours the Bulldogs giving up possession to the Knights on the line.
40 min: Half time here at ANZ Stadium the Knights leading the Bulldogs 12-0. The flow of possession certain in favour of the visitors with rare chances from the Bulldogs to attack the line haven't seen points.
40 min: We are back underway for the second half here at ANZ Stadium with the Bulldogs in control of the ball for the first set
43 min: Early penalty here for the Bulldogs. Touchfinder taken by the Bulldogs as they attack just short of half way.
44 min: KNOCK ON! Bulldogs can't get a on a roll as they have lost the ball as Barba looked for a cut out pass to his winger.
44 min: James Graham penalised for being inside the 10 metres. Knights with the penalty.
45 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL! Knights
Knights opt for the penalty goal and the two points are added off the boot of Gidley.
Newcastle Knights 14-0
49 min: KNOCK ON! Matt Hilder with his first touch of the ball as he comes onto the park and he drops it cold in a tackle. Scrum feed pack for the Bulldogs on their 40 metre line.
50 min: Frank Pritchard opened up the Bulldogs line looking for support. The pass from Josh Morris throwing one wide to the wing however deemed forward before Bryson Goodwin could score.
52 min: The Bulldogs forwards started to get a roll over however a penalty has gone to the Knights. Sam Kasiano has been penalised for passing the ball off the ground. Knights on the attack short of half way.
54 min: Error from the Knights on the Bulldogs line sees the Bulldogs get a quick tap.
55 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs for the Knights Matt Hilder being offside.
57 min: Newcastle rolling through the motions with their forwards getting good metres in their set. However no points at the end of the set as the kick collected deep in the Dogs half.
58 min: Matt Hilder penalised for collecting Josh Reynolds after he kicked the ball. There was no attempt at tackle so the Bulldogs with a good chance at the line.
59 min: KNOCK ON! Sam Kasinao losing control of the ball in the tackle on the Knights line. The Bulldogs completion rate slipping to 19/30. Knights could hold on with their defence here today.
62 min: Bulldogs looking lost at the line as they when 80 metres across the park. Josh Reynolds racing from touch line to touchline as the defensive line held strong. Michael Ennis opting for a grubbing through the line but it was easily collected by Snowden on his 10 metre line.
63 min: Bulldogs chancing their with the attack going to the air with a high ball from Ben Barba. Time off though with an enquiry from the officials in back play.
63 min: Michael Ennis was collected and taken out by Kurt Gidley, so the Bulldogs get a penalty and another shot at the Knights line.
64 min: Second phase play alive and kicking for the Bulldogs but they can't link up to find the line. Ben Barba almost through a hole, he offloaded to Josh Morris but he gave it to the touch judge. Knights have a scrum feed on their 10 metre line.
66 min: Darius Boyd did well under pressure to take the bomb from the boot of Josh Reynolds, Morris meeting him in defensive contest the tackle but the Knights come up with possession.
67 min: Kurt Gidley's kick downfield a controlling which sees the ball roll dead over the line. Quick tap on the 20 metre line.
67 min: Zero tackle for the Knights after a pushing pass gives possession back up for the Knights
69 min: Ben Barba caught in goal to give the Knights a repeat set via a goal line drop out.
72 min: TRY
Kurt Gidley offloading to Alex McKinnon which put him straight to a hole through the Bulldogs defensive line. A questionable pass from Gidley but regardless they extend their lead. Gidley with the conversion nails it.
Newcastle Knights 20-0
74 min: Bulldogs well on the attack deep in the Knights half. Full set on the Knights line big chance to add points.
74 min: Bulldogs have not been on their game, another error on the Knights line.
78 min: TRY
With a good controlled set at the line, Joel Romelo put through a gap and crossing in the final moments to close the game out.
Newcastle Knights 20-6
80 min: Full time here at ANZ Stadium, it's all over with an upset score line. The Knights victors 20 over the Bulldogs 6.