Newcastle Knights gave the 19,555 fans who turned out in rainy conditions a treat in their 32-16 success against Canterbury Bulldogs tonight at McDonalds Jones Stadium.
The rain came just before kick-off then the points poured for the Newcastle Knights, as they put away the error-riddled Canterbury Bulldogs side. The forward pack led by two try hero Daniel Saifiti rolled over their opponents and helped establish a rare win against the Bulldogs in the Hunter.
It was a disjointed off-season for Newcastle with the Mitch Pearce drama but back on home turf, the Knights were slick in attack and stern in defense. Pearce set up Daniel Saifiti's first to lead 6-4 then tries in the final ten minutes to Starford To'a and Mitchell Barnett gave them an 18-10 advantage.
For the Bulldogs, their handling was their downfall. Tries to Dallin Watene-Zelesniak in the opening five minutes and Adam Elliott in the 20th gave the Bulldogs lead twice but constant errors gave the Knights prime field position and they were put to the sword. It was a quiet start to their new life under Trent Barrett who has plenty to work on.
Newcastle will be glad to see new signing Tyson Frizell rumble for over 150 metres in his club debut. It was a real showcase for the Knights forwards. Mitchell Barnett kicked six from 7 alongside a four pointer and worked tirelessly to terrorise the Bulldogs.
In his 100th game, Daniel Saifiti brought his try tally to 10 after he crossed for his double in the second half. Saifiti is in the Knights captaincy 'rotation' and if he continues this form, may take the spot for himself before long.
The only sour note for the Knights is a pair of injuries. Kurt Mann was forced from the field early with an MCL injury which thrust Connor Watson into the halves. Also Bradman Best didn't finish the contest with an injury.
There were some positive signs for the Bulldogs. Corey Allan was solid under the high ball and high profile signing Nick Cotric was strong carrying the ball. The halves were solid but unspectacular which showed a lack of punch once the Knights went into second gear.