Johns injured, Sonny sent off in Newcastle thriller

Round 1 - Full Time :: March 18th, 2007 Knights 25 defeat Bulldogs 24

The Newcastle Knights have won a thrilling NRL clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs at Energy Australia Stadium today. The Knights won 25-24 despite trailing 24-8 at half time. Bulldogs star Sonny Bill Williams was sent off after three minutes for a high tackle on Andrew Johns which left Johns needing to go to hospital for x-rays.

The Knights started the match in full control until Andrew Johns was hammered in a high tackle by Sonny Bill Williams. Johns was taken from the field in a neck brace, on a stretcher after only three minutes. The tackle saw the Bulldogs reduced to 12 men with referee Tony Archer not hesitating in sending the Bulldogs young sensation from the field. The Knights went up 2-0 with the penalty goal to Kurt Gidley.

The Bulldogs looked disjointed on attack early on, but struck with a three try burst in the space of six minutes - Andrew Ryan crashed over from close range, Luke Patten scored a breakaway try from a Ryan offload and Reni Maitua crashing through the Knights defence out wide, leaving the Knights in a world of trouble down 2-18. Jarrad Hickey was controversially denied a try by Tony Archer when it appeared he had managed to get the ball down on the line.

The Knights struck back with a sneaky try to debutant Terence Seu Seu. The Bulldogs extended their lead only six minutes later with Trent Cutler scoring an easy try out wide for a comfortable 24-8 half time lead.

The Knights struck back to 24-14 just after half time with Josh Perry barging over under the posts. Five minutes later the difference was only four as Todd Polglase scored under the posts. The match was level not much later with debutant James McManus scoring in the corner. Five minutes later the Knights had a try denied for obvious obstruction.

Kurt Gidley kicked the winning field goal with seven minutes to go, the Knights going up 25-24. The Bulldogs had two chances to win the game late, one break ruled out by a forward pass and Dallas McIlwain dropping a pass with the line wide open. A Ben Roberts field goal attempt as time expired hit the goal post pads - just below the crossbar, giving the Knights a stunning win in the first rounds most outstanding match thus far.

The big concerns for both sides are the future of their stars - Sonny Bill Williams facing possible suspension, Andrew Johns has been cleared of facial fractures but still faces x-rays for a broken jaw and still has a severe concussion.

Venue: EnergyAustralia Stadium Referee: Tony Archer

Newcastle Knights 25 Tries: Terence Seu Seu, Josh Perry, Todd Polglase, James McManus Field Goals: Kurt Gidley 1/1 Goals: Kurt Gidley 4/5 Canterbury Bulldogs 24 Tries: Andrew Ryan, Luke Patten, Reni Maitua, Trent Cutler Field Goals: Ben Roberts 0/1 Goals: Hazem El Masri 4/4 Good afternoon from Newcastle. Fairly good crowd in. Grey day in Newcastle but it should remain dry for the game.

Both sides are as per the programme.

Both sides have now taken to the park.

1 min: The Bulldogs kick off!

1 min: Bulldogs concede a penalty on the opening set, putting the Knights straight onto attack

3 min: The Knights spread the ball on the last tackle and the Bulldogs stop Carmont only a metre out from the line. The Bulldogs throw a forward pass only seconds later.

4 min: INJURY - Andrew Johns is down after a high tackle from Sonny Bill while he made a dash for the line. It was ulgy, however it looked unintentional. Johns has been down for some time now. The trainer is calling for a stretcher and a neck brace.

Andrew Johns is being stretched from the field in a neck brace. It appears he is out for today and probably some time. The referee has yet to act on the high tackle.

4 min: SEND OFF - Sonny Bill Williams has been sent off by referee Tony Archer for the above mentioned high tackle on Johns.

4 min: PENALTY GOAL Newcastle Knights Gidley adds the points for the penalty. Newcastle Knights 2-0

6 min: The Bulldogs are penalised again - six minutes and they've had the ball for all of two tackles.

7 min: Jarrod Mullen puts in a poor cross field kick on the last tackle, however the Knights are causing all sorts of trouble out wide for the Bulldogs defence.

9 min: The Bulldogs get a tackle count restart after some desperation play hot on attack.

10 min: The Bulldogs look extremely disjointed on attack but pick up a goal line dropout nonetheless.

11 min: VIDEO REF - For a double movement on an Andrew Ryan try

11 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Ryan runs onto the ball and drags a tackler to the line before planting the ball on the line. Try awarded through benefit of the doubt. El Masri has no problem with the goal. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 6-2

12 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs Ryan sends a superb offload to put Patten into space, he races 60 metres evading defenders to dot down next to the posts. El Masri adds the extras. Suddenly the Bulldogs are very much in control. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 12-2

16 min: The Knights give away a penalty and the game is going almost entirely the Bulldogs way.

16 min: INJURY - Todd Polglase has taken an accidental knee to the back of the head fielding a dangerous grubber kick, losing the ball in the process. Polglase is up and fine, Dogs hot on attack.

17 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs The ball goes wide left to Maitua who runs right through Brad Tighe to score out wide. The Bulldogs are playing as though they have 20 men on the field instead of 12. El Masri nails his toughest kick of the day. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 18-2

20 min: The Bulldogs are enjoying 63% of possession - they have had 5 consecutive sets.

22 min: The Bulldogs get another penalty and will again go hot on attack.

23 min: VIDEO REF - For a possible Jarrad Hickey try.

23 min: NO TRY - The video ref spins up a refs call and Archer says Hickey was short. Cutler loses the ball on the next play.

24 min: The Knights are nearly forced in goal after the scrum feed, but are awarded a penalty for a scrum infringement.

25 min: The Knights finally pick up a repeat set through a goal line dropout.

26 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Seu Seu darts across the line from dummy half. Gidley adds the extras from next to the posts and the Knights are back in it. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 18-8

28 min: INJURY UPDATE - Andrew Johns is to be taken to hospital for x-rays on his cheekbone.

29 min: The game has swung back the Knights way - they pick up a penalty for a dangerous tackle and go back on attack.

30 min: The Knights put on a strong attacking set, but a Mullen kick bounces dead.

31 min: After a great penalty kick for touch the Dogs go right onto attack.

32 min: TRY Canterbury Bulldogs The Bulldogs spin the ball left, find an overlap and Cutler scores easily in the left corner. El Masri converts from touch. Conversion attempt by Hazem El Masri successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-8

37 min: The Bulldogs make an error on halfway, good chance for the Knights to get back into the game just before half time.

40 min: The Bulldogs kick out on the full, the Knights will get a few plays before halftime, only to lose the ball.

HALF TIME at EnergyAustralia Stadium. A wild first 40 - Sonny Bill Williams sent off for a high tackle on Andrew Johns that has seen the Knights captain taken to hospital, before a Bulldogs scoring frenzy that saw them up 18-2 at one stage, and they now lead 24-8 at half time.

40 min: Back underway in Newcastle, Bulldogs in possession.

44 min: The Knights make great inroads running the ball on the last tackle but are shut down just short of the line.

47 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Mullen gives a smart offload to Josh Perry who crashes over under the posts. Gidley converts and we're back to 10 points. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-14

51 min: Interesting few minutes of play, both teams playing for field position at the moment.

52 min: TRY Newcastle Knights A stunning offload from Tolar puts Polglase in under the posts. Gidley converts and it is game on. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful. Canterbury Bulldogs 24-20

55 min: Mason loses the ball and the Knights will get possession inside the Bulldogs half.

57 min: The Bulldogs are just hanging on, the Knights pick up a goal line dropout.

58 min: TRY Newcastle Knights The Knights keep the ball alive, eventually McManus drives through tacklers to score out wide. The Bulldogs are in all sorts of trouble here. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley unsuccessful. 24 all

61 min: The Knights are really on a roll here - the Bulldogs look stuffed. The Knights get a penalty and go back on attack.

62 min: Another goal line drop out for the Bulldogs to endure.

63 min: The Knights pick up yet another line dropout.

64 min: VIDEO REF - for a fairly suspect looking Newcastle try.

64 min: NO TRY - A Seu Seu try is denied because of a Clint Newton obstruction.

66 min: The Bulldogs go on attack from 30 out after a penalty.

66 min: Willie Tonga is driven into touch.

69 min: The Knights waste a great attacking opportunity with a poor offload. Not long to go, and it feels as though the game is just waiting for the Knights to finish the game off. The Bulldogs get six more off a charge down. Roberts loses the ball attempting to milk a penalty.

71 min: Tolar loses the ball while the Knights are on attack, the Bulldogs lose the ball working it out from their end.

73 min: FIELD GOAL Newcastle Knights Gidley lands a wobbly field goal from 20 out. Newcastle Knights 25-24

74 min: The Knights go nearly 100 metres on the set off the kickoff, Gidley is wrapped up on the last tackle only a metre out.

75 min: The Bulldogs make a stunning break only for the final pass to be called forward.

77 min: The Knights get the tackle count reset 20 metres out.

78 min: The Bulldogs make a great break, McIlwain drops the ball and the game with the line wide, wide open.

79 min: The Bulldogs get a penalty with just over a minute to go. They find touch on halfway.

80 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Canterbury Bulldogs Roberts attempts a field goal that hits the posts below the crossbar. Newcastle Knights 25-24

FULL TIME: The Knights have won a stunning game to open up the season. Player of the Match 3 Points: Jarrod Mullen 2 Points: Kurt Gidley 1 Point: Andrew Ryan Pic: