The Knights snapped a seven-game losing streak with a scrappy 16-6 win over the Bulldogs in the opening game of Magic Round on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
The return of halfback Adam Clune proved pivotal as the playmaker iced the victory with a sharp solo try in the 76th minute.
The Knights opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Kalyn Ponga knocked over a penalty goal after Paul Vaughan was pinged for a dangerous tackle.
Ponga was heavily involved again eight minutes later when he went down a short side and found Bradman Best who put Edrick Lee over in the corner and the Knights led 6-0.
Lee dives over on the short side
Matt Burton's kicking game was on song for the Bulldogs and in the 21st minute he laid on a try for Josh Addo-Carr with a perfectly weighted grubber.
The Bulldogs continued to pepper Ponga with high balls and grubbers and converted that pressure into points through a Burton penalty goal in the 30th minute and scores were level.
A dropped ball by Jayden Okunbor coming out of his own end opened the door for the Knights but they failed to capitalise and the teams went to the break locked at 6-6.
Tempers flare as Best scores
Four minutes into the second half the Knights got across the line through Daniel Saifiti but the try was disallowed due to obstruction by Mat Croker.
They made amends shortly after when a poor defensive read by Brent Naden opened the door for Ponga to slide into open space and lay it on a platter for Best to score.
The Knights squandered opportunities to extend their lead on two occasions through Leo Thompson and Pasami Saulo to give the Bulldogs a sniff but a superb covering tackle by Dominic Young on Addo-Carr with 10 minutes to play proved a huge moment.
Clune clinches it for Newcastle
With the game going down to the wire it was Clune darting over from close range to give the Knights breathing space at 16-6.
The Knights' third win of the season lifts them from the bottom of the ladder and gives them a shot of confidence heading into a round 11 clash with the Broncos.
The Bulldogs completed at just 65 per cent and missed 27 tackles on the way to their eighth loss of the season.
Match: Bulldogs v Knights
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Josh Addo-Carr has scored 20 tries in 19 games at Suncorp Stadium and 108 four-pointers in his career.
- Bulldogs prop Paul Vaughan produced a powerful 31-minute stint to open the game, making 98 metres from 10 hit-ups.
- Knights winger Edrick Lee scored his first try since round 20, 2020 against the Titans.
- In his first game back from a six-game ban Mitch Barnett had seven tackle breaks and ran for 136 metres for the Knights.
- Daniel Saifiti left the field for a HIA after 25 minutes but was cleared to return to the action.
- Bulldogs back-rower Corey Waddell was forced from the field for a HIA with 24 minutes to play after getting his head in an awkward position attempting to tackle Mitch Barnett. He did not return to the game.
- Chris Patolo was placed on report for a high tackle on Enari Tuala midway through the second half.
- The Bulldogs have lost their past 11 games at Suncorp.
Play of the Game
Matt Burton's kicking game has been sensational for the Bulldogs in 2022 and he pulled out all the tricks to open Magic Round. Midway through the first half he went down the left hand side and put in a deft grubber which turned Dominic Young around and sat up beautifully for Josh Addo-Carr to score. Burton's towering bombs were also a highlight of the night and proved a headache for Kalyn Ponga all night.
Addo-Carr jumps on a Burton kick to score
What They Said
"They're courageous and they try hard but that's not enough to win you the game in the NRL, you have to control the footy. Until we cut out those individual errors that we are making and build pressure and come up with the right kick at the right time... I sound like a broken record because it's the same every week and it's not good enough." - Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett.
Bulldogs: Round 10
"We missed a couple of chances and bombed a couple of tries but we needed to win, how it looked in attack didn't matter to me. I wanted to see that defensive resolve in the first half. I felt it was an important game to us and that showed through out defensive actions. With our supporters we don't lose them, they can be disappointed in us but they don't leave us, they support us. Hopefully we've made a few of them happier tonight." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien.
Knights: Round 10
The Bulldogs head to Leichhardt Oval for a clash with the rejuvenated Wests Tigers. The last time they clashed it was the Dogs finishing their 2021 season in style with a 38-0 victory in Redcliffe. The return of Raymond Faitala-Mariner from a foot injury will be a boost for Trent Barrett's men.
The Knights are back on home turf in Newcastle on Thursday night hosting the Broncos. Tyson Frizell (neck), Kurt Mann (ankle) and Dane Gagai (cheekbone) are some chance of returning for the round 11 encounter while mid-season recruit Anthony Milford could also make his club debut.