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.
Newcastle Knights 44 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8
Venue: Newcastle International Sports Centre
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
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (5/5), Tyrone Roberts (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Kurt Gidley (1/1)
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (8)
Tries: Frank Pritchard
Conversions: Trent Hodkinson (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Trent Hodkinson (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Interchange: 14. Travis Waddell 15. Neville Costigan 16. Adam Cuthbertson 17. Korbin Sims
Bulldogs: 1. Ben Barba 2. Mitch Brown 3. Josh Morris 4. Krisnan Inu 5. Sam Perrett 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Michael Ennis 10. Sam Kasiano 11. Tony Williams 12. Frank Pritchard 13. Greg Eastwood
Interchange: 14. Dene Halatau 15. Josh Jackson 16. James Graham 17. Dale Finucane 20. Martin Taupau 21. Tim Browne
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.
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.
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
Tony Williams is down in back play, looks to be an ankle issue.
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
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.
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.
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
Adam Cuthbertson makes an unforced error.
Cuthbertson puts it down in the tackle 30m out from the line, Bulldogs again on the attack.
Penalty goal attempt by Trent Hodkinson successful.
Hodkinson slots the penalty to put his team within 4 at the break.
Newcastle Knights 12-8
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
Sam Kasiano makes an unforced error.
Possibly justice for the dodgy high tackle call, the Knights get the ball back on half way.
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
There's some friction between Mason and Barba over the previous tackle on McManus, his leg was caught in an awkward position.
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
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
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
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.
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
Korbin Sims makes an unforced error.
Sims puts it down in the tackle 20m out from his own line.