Mullen Magic crushes Bulldogs

After a narrow loss to Cronulla in round 8 and a thrashing last week at the hands of the Raiders the Knights were determined to get their season back on track and did so in style, Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd putting in star performances to inspire the home side to a 44-8 victory in front of 18,982 fans.

Captain Kurt Gidley got the Knights on the board early, drifting across field and laying on a good pass for second-rower Robbie Rochow on the charge. Rochow ran a good out-line to split Josh Morris and Sam Perrett, before showing off his footwork to step inside Ben Barba for the try after just 6 minutes of play.

Ten minutes later the Knights began a period of sustained pressure on the Bulldogs line, Mullen running to the line and putting in a deft chip that led to Krisnan Inu being caught in-goal and the Knights earning a repeat set on the Bulldogs’ line. They nearly capitalised on this opportunity, Rochow and Gidley again combining when the second rower split the defence down the middle of the field, Gidley taking the offload in support before being dragged down a metre short of the line. Mullen’s kicking was again a threat, the defence unable to properly defuse the cross-field bomb and a knock-on saw the pressure mount on the visitors’ line. Suitably it was a Mullen kick that saw the Knights extend their lead just a few plays later, the five-eighth kicking early in the set for winger Kevin Naiqama, brought in for the injured Aku Uate, who collected easily on the right flank for a try.

The Bulldogs regrouped and with the help of some ill discipline from the Knights started to create opportunities of their own, finally hitting back in the shadows of half time. A penalty put them inside Knights territory, and it was Josh Jackson who deserved credit for creating the opportunity for the play. He hit, spun and pushed half through the line on the previous play, putting the Knights in disarray and earning a quick play the ball. The Bulldogs swung the ball left to James Graham, who channelled his inner halfback to take on the line and play the short ball to Frank Pritchard. Hitting a gap opened up by a disoriented Robbie Rochow Pritchard sliced through easily to score.

There was further joy points-wise for the Bulldogs just before half time, as Rochow was then ruled to have performed a shoulder charge on Trent Hodkinson as he was kicking. A penalty in front of the sticks was slotted by Hodkinson for the two points, and the score at the break was 12-8 to the Knights.

The small period before half time would be the only time the Bulldogs troubled the scorers as the Knights ran rampant in the second stanza, scoring 32 unanswered points.

The Bulldogs’ troubles started early in the second half and stemmed from terrible discipline and a piece of magic from Darius Boyd. After four successive sets on the Bulldogs’ line and only four penalties added to the tally to show for it the fullback creating a try from nothing, having received the ball flat-footed behind the play after a slow play the ball. He noticed a gap in the Bulldogs’ defence and kicked early, putting in a grubbing kick behind Krisnan Inu. James McManus was alert to the situation, racing through to beat Inu and Ben Barba to the ball for a try. Boyd was in the thick of things again minutes later, this time scoring after Tyrone Roberts produced a special piece of play of his own. The halfback took on the line, selling the dummy and skipping past a squared-up Sam Kasiano. Drawing the cover he found the fullback in support on his left, Boyd crossing for a try of his own. Roberts converted both tries to put his side up 24-8.

There was a brief respite for the visitors as Kurt Gidley elected to take a penalty goal after James McManus made a break and the Bulldogs failed to retreat the full 10m, but it was soon back to business for the Knights as they piled on another three converted tries late in the second half. Willie Mason and Adam Cuthbertson were the orchestrators of the first, Mason producing a fantastic offload after pushing through the defensive line. Cuthbertson collected, hit, spun and produced some second-phase of his own, the Knights whipping the ball wide to catch the Bulldogs short and allow Joseph Leilua to sneak over in the corner.

Two more tries could be credited directly to the magic boot of Jarrod Mullen, his kicking game on song as he first kicked through the line for Dane Gagai, who collected and found Kurt Gidley for more points under the sticks. Minutes later he was at it again, chipping for Darius Boyd. Boyd pulled off a fine one-handed catch on the run, sucking in the cover defence before going to Kevin Naiqama racing up on his inside in support. Naiqama cut outside, inside and busted through two to slam the ball down for his second, Gidley converting 5 from 5 attempts and a penalty goal to add to Roberts’ 2/2, the Knights running out 44-8 winners in emphatic fashion.

Match Details
Newcastle Knights 44 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8
Venue: Newcastle International Sports Centre
Crowd: 18982
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 12-8

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Jarrod Mullen
2 points - Darius Boyd
1 point - Kade Snowden

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (44)
Tries: Robbie Rochow, Kurt Gidley, Kevin Naiqama (2), Darius Boyd, James McManus, Joseph Leilua
Field Goals:
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (5/5), Tyrone Roberts (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Kurt Gidley (1/1)

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (8)
Tries: Frank Pritchard
Field Goals:
Conversions: Trent Hodkinson (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Trent Hodkinson (1/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

Good afternoon LUers and welcome to live update coverage of this match between the Knights and the Bulldogs from Hunter Stadium in Newcastle.

Just one change from the teams named on Tuesday for the Knights: Akuila Uate has succumbed to an ankle injury and is out of the match, replaced on the wing by Kevin Naiqama in jersey 18. The Bulldogs line up as per the program.
3 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - Joseph Leilua is penalized for having his hand on the ball in the ruck. The Bulldogs find touch on their own 40m line.
4 min: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Tony Williams makes an unforced error.
Williams made a bust through the Knights line but was brought down from behind and the ball spilt loose.
4 min: Penalty to the Knights - the Bulldogs are penalized for being inside the 10. Mullen finds the line 12m out from the try-line, the Knights have the first chance of the game.
5 min: Penalty to the Knights - the Bulldogs went early off their own line. The Knights have another set on the line.
6 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Robbie Rochow. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
A beautiful ball from Kurt Gidley finds Rochow running a brilliant out line, splitting between two Bulldogs defenders and stepping Ben Barba to score.
Newcastle Knights 6-0
9 min: James McManus slices straight through down the middle of the field, he's brought down by Ben Barba 30m out from the line.
10 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - Kurt Gidley has been penalized for a double movement after getting over the line off a Mullen bomb. He's vocal in his opposition to the decision but it's the Bulldogs with the ball 30m out from their own line.
10 min: Ben Barba scythes through the Knights line, but finds himself slammed into the ground by Joseph Leilua in a rag-doll tackle. Both teams engage in a bit of push and shove, the tackle is on report and the Bulldogs have a chance on the Knights' line.
12 min: Penalty to the Knights - after some messy play from the Bulldogs the Knights come up with the ball, and Eastwood has stripped it back off them, but it's ruled there was two in the tackle.
Tony Williams is down in back play, looks to be an ankle issue.
15 min: Jarrod Mullen puts in a deft kick for the corner, it's perfectly weighted and the Bulldogs are caught in-goal. The Knights have another chance in good territory off the drop-out.
16 min: Rochow splits them running another beautiful line, finds Gidley in support and he's brought down just short of the line.
17 min: Yet another set on the Bulldogs' line for the Knights, a double knock on off Jarrod Mullen's kick is the ruling.
19 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Kevin Naiqama. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Jarrod Mullen shows great vision and puts in another deft kick, chipping for Kevin Naiqama on the right flank for the try. Gidley slots the conversion.
Newcastle Knights 12-0
22 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - Kade Snowden is penalised for holding down too long, the Bulldogs get a piggy-back upfield.
24 min: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Krisnan Inu makes an unforced error.
Inu drops it cold at dummy half, the Knights will have another chance in good field position as the scrum packs down 30m out from the line.
26 min: Gidley scoots on the last, but he's brought down a few metres from the line.
27 min: Mullen's kick trickles dead, the Bulldogs will have the ball from the 20m line.
29 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - Kevin Naiqama is penalised for a hand on the ball in the ruck, the Bulldogs will resume from 45m out from their own line.
31 min: Boyd handles the high bomb well but he's crunched on landing. Knights working it out from their own end.
31 min: James Graham collects a pass from behind him and goes straight through the Knights line! He's dragged down after making 25m.
31 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - Joseph Leilua is penalised for taking out a Bulldogs chaser. He only had eyes for the runner, simple penalty.
32 min: The Knights looked short on the right but Finucane runs it hard and straight, he's been held up over the line.
34 min: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Josh Morris makes an unforced error.
Morris flew high for the cross-field kick but couldn't take it cleanly, it's ruled a knock-on. The Knights ruck it out from their own 10m line.
36 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - the visitors get a welcome penalty to help them up-field, they'll start this set from just inside the Knights' half.
38 min:
Put that try down to a great team effort. Josh Jackson hit, spun and pushed half through the line on the previous play, putting the Knights in disarray and earning a quick play the ball for his term. The ball goes across field to the left to James Graham, who channels his inner halfback to take on the line and plays the short ball to Frank Pritchard, who runs past a disoriented Robbie Rochow to score.
Newcastle Knights 12-6
39 min: UNFORCED ERROR NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Adam Cuthbertson makes an unforced error.
Cuthbertson puts it down in the tackle 30m out from the line, Bulldogs again on the attack.
40 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - the Knights are penalised for a shoulder charge, Robbie Rochow put a light bump on Hodkinson but it's enough to hand the Bulldogs a penalty 10m out in front of the sticks.
40 min: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Penalty goal attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.
Hodkinson slots the penalty to put his team within 4 at the break.
Newcastle Knights 12-8
40 min: Hodkinson gets us underway and we're back for the second half.
43 min: Penalty to the Knights - Pritchard is pinged for a hand on the ball in the ruck, the Knights restart from inside Bulldogs' territory.
44 min: Penalty to the Knights - Cuthbertson and Costigan both made good metres up the middle, the Bulldogs are penalised for a leg pull. Knights attacking the line.
44 min: Penalty to the Knights - three in a row that is, again for slowing the ruck. Knights setting siege to the Bulldogs' line.
45 min: Penalty to the Knights - and that's four. Ennis has to be told to talk to his players, they aren't getting back and keep infringing in the ruck.
47 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by James McManus. Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts successful.
Well, how's that for an exposition of making something from nothing! Boyd got the ball out the back from a slow ruck, flat footed. He looked right, left and put boot to ball, producing a deft grubber behind the line, splitting winger and the fullback in cover to find James McManus who gathered and grounded in a fluid movement to score. Roberts' conversion swings back around to sneak inside the right hand post.
Newcastle Knights 18-8
47 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - Travis Waddell collected the falling Dogs attacker high.
50 min: UNFORCED ERROR CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Sam Kasiano makes an unforced error.
Possibly justice for the dodgy high tackle call, the Knights get the ball back on half way.
51 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Darius Boyd. Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts successful.
Tyrone Roberts shows the dummy and skips straight through the Bulldogs' line past a poor effort from Sam Kasiano. Boyd is flying through on his hip, he draws the cover and goes to his fullback for the try. Roberts converts the try he set up and the Knights go further ahead.
Newcastle Knights 24-8
56 min: Eastwood's offload is picked up by Gagai, who goes wider to McManus. McManus is off upfield, finally brought down 20m out.
57 min: Penalty to the Bulldogs - the Bulldogs defence didn't make it back the 10 after McManus' break.
There's some friction between Mason and Barba over the previous tackle on McManus, his leg was caught in an awkward position.
59 min: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Penalty goal attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
The Knights elect to further extend the lead.
Barba and Mason are still having a verbal disagreement, the following sets could be interesting.
Newcastle Knights 26-8
60 min: Sure enough, further trouble has erupted. Mason wasn't happy about the tackle on him and got up mouthing off, the Dogs reinforcements came from all directions.
60 min: Penalty to the Knights - Tolman is pinged for stripping the ball in a two man tackle.
60 min: Possible try to the Knights - the referee has indicated no try but we'll go upstairs to check. Roberts went short to Snowden who was brought down just short from the line. On the next play Roberts went straight to McManus on the wing who dove for the corner, and it was only a last ditch effort from Inu to knock the ball loose that prevented the try. NO TRY.
62 min: Penalty to the Knights - Robbie Rochow didn't get back the 10m. The Bulldogs resume the attack 25m out from the Knights' line.
62 min: Sam Perrett cuts inside and dives for the line, but it's a good effort from Darius Boyd to hold him up.
63 min: Naiqama caught it in-goal, he races back to the 20m line and they make good ground with the Dogs in disarray.
64 min: Mason and Cuthbertson produce superb offloads, the ball goes to the left and Leilua is over!
64 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Joseph Leilua. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Willie Mason went to the line, pushed his upper body through it and came up with a magical offload to Adam Cuthbertson running through in support. Cuthbertson comes to a second line of defence, spins and offloads himself, the Knights play the ball wide to Leilua and he touches down in the corner for a great try to seal the game.
Newcastle Knights 32-8
68 min: Josh Reynolds has put it out on the full, the Knights will have the handover on their own 40m line.
70 min: The Bulldogs put the ball dead and the Knights will have another chance off the drop-out.
71 min: Mullen puts in another deft kick for Naiqama in the corner, but under pressure he can't collect it cleanly. The Bulldogs will have the ball from the 20m tap.
74 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Kurt Gidley. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Put another try down to the magic of an in-form Jarrod Mullen. He went to the line and dropped the ball onto his foot, and the grubber sat up nicely for Dane Gagai racing through on his outside. Gagai cut back inside, beat one in cover defence and drew Ben Barba before popping the ball to his captain for the try under the posts.
Newcastle Knights 38-8
76 min: UNFORCED ERROR NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Kade Snowden makes an unforced error.
Snowden puts it down 20m out from his own line, a change for the Bulldogs to save some face here.
76 min: Fa'alogo takes the ball off Jackson in a one-on-one strip, Knights survive that threat.
77 min: Jarrod Mullen and his magic boots at Hunter Stadium this afternoon! We have to go upstairs to check whether Darius Boyd was onside, otherwise it's a try to Kevin Naiqama.
77 min: TRY NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Scored by Kevin Naiqama. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd combine for another! Mullen put a chip through for his fullback who collects it one-handed, sucks in the surrounding cover defence and finds Naiqama in support. He cuts outside, inside and has the strength to bust through two to get over the line.
Newcastle Knights 44-8
80 min: UNFORCED ERROR NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Korbin Sims makes an unforced error.
Sims puts it down in the tackle 20m out from his own line.
80 min: Roberts! Tyrone Roberts snatches the intercept and takes off upfield, but he doesn't have the pace to evade Barba forever and he's pulled down 10m from the line, inches from the sideline. Nothing comes of the last couple of plays and that's the game.
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