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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have moved off the bottom of the NRL ladder with a deserved 20-14 upset win over the Newcastle Knights in a match played before 17,757 supporters at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Posting back-to-back wins for the first time this season, the Bulldogs maintained a dominant record in Newcastle with their sixth win from eight visits this decade to overtake the Titans into 15th place on the ladder.
In a first half low on points but high on enterprising play from both sides, Mitchell Pearce delivered a sensational cut-out ball to Shaun Kenny-Dowall in the fifth minute to give the home side a 6-0 lead.
Coming close to responding on several occasions during the opening 40 minutes, errors in quality territory proved costly for the Bulldogs with Reimis Smith knocking on with the try-line open minutes later.
Appearing to open their account through Marcelo Montoya midway through the first half, a tremendous tackle from Newcastle veteran Jamie Buhrer prevented the ball from contacting the ground to leave the Bulldogs scoreless at the change of ends.
Despite the Knights extending their lead to 8-0 via a Mason Lino penalty goal in the 47th minute, the Bulldogs showed plenty of confidence while reducing the number errors committed to shift the momentum in their favour.
Gaining a much-needed slice of fortune following an 80-metre break from Marcelo Montoya, Will Hopoate got the visitors on the board in the 58th minute after exposing the Knights' reeling defence.
In a major turning point of the match, James Gavet was placed on report and sent to the sin bin for making late contact on Chris Smith, allowing Nick Meaney to level the scores at 8-all in the 62nd minute.
Capitalising upon the one-man advantage, Fijian playmaker Brandon Wakeham, delivered a nicely weighted short ball for Corey Harawira-Naera in the 66th minute to put the Bulldogs ahead for the first time.
Securing the result with eight minutes remaining, Reimis Smith touched down to establish an unassailable 20-8 lead despite confusion between the on-field call of ‘No Try' and the Bunker's explanation for overturning the on-field decision.
Threatening to pull off a miraculous comeback after Kenny-Dowall bagged his second four-pointer capitalising upon a Bulldogs error with seven minutes to play, time would ultimately beat the Knights despite their best efforts.
In a minor consolation for the Knights, centre Tautau Moga made a successful return to first grade after suffering his fourth ACL tear 15 months ago.
Next week, the Knights face the Roosters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday afternoon, while the Bulldogs travel to Suncorp Stadium on Thursday evening to take on the Broncos.
Newcastle Knights 14 - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 6 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Will Hopoate
2 points - Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
1 points - Adam Elliott
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (14)
Tries: Shaun Kenny-Dowall (2)
Conversions: Mason Lino (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Mason Lino (1/1)
CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS (20)
Tries: Will Hopoate, Corey Harawira-Naera, Reimis Smith
Conversions: Nick Meaney (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Nick Meaney (1/1)