When these clubs met back in Round 20’s Rivalry Round up in the Hunter, the match certainly lived up to its billing, as old Bulldogs clubmates and now rivals Sonny Bill Williams and Willie Mason collided for a massive hit early in the piece, before a bigger shot from Williams put Mason out of the match with a fractured cheekbone and landed him on report.
Those hits fell inside an absorbing opening 20 minutes as both sides threatened to break away but couldn’t capitalise on their chances, before a precise Mitchell Pearce bomb found a leaping Shaun Kenny-Dowall, putting the Roosters up 6-0 after 18.
The Knights soon hit back through fullback Darius Boyd, who marked a similar kick with a perfectly timed leap close to his own line then engaged the afterburners, running through the ragged Roosters line to go the length of the field to score.
It was another long-range effort that stretched the Roosters’ lead as centre Michael Jennings latched on to an intercept 30 metres out from his line and streaked away without a chaser in sight to put the Roosters up 12-6 after half an hour, a lead they would take to the break.
Sam Moa extended the Roosters’ advantage shortly after the break after some offloads close to the line wore down the Knights defence, before James McManus finished off a sweeping backline movement to keep the Knights in the contest at 18-10 after 60.
A penalty goal brought them back within six points but that was as close as they got, as powerful tries from back-rowers Boyd Cordner and Williams put the Knights away in the final 10 minutes.