14 Mar 2010

Newcastle defy odds to beat Bulldogs

6:43 am on 14 March 2010

Newcastle put their off-field dramas behind them to hold-off Canterbury 20-16 in a major NRL upset at ANZ Stadium, but they were lucky Bulldogs goal-kicking great Hazem El Masri retired last year.

Trailing 16-nil at halftime, Canterbury scored four second half tries, two each to Josh Morris and Steve Turner, to get back into the contest, but they felt the absence of El Masri.

New kicker Michael Ennis missed all four attempts, including one from the sideline with five minutes to go that would have brought the Bulldogs back within a converted try.

The home side also looked certain to pull off a remarkable victory with just over a minute to go when young centre Jamal Idris broke away down the right side.

He had Turner catching up in support on his inside and will regret his decision to kick ahead, with Knights fullback Shannon McDonnell showing great desperation to get back to his in-goal and cover up.

They might have gone to sleep in the second half, but it was a courageous win for a Newcastle side who endured a harrowing off-season of controversy.

But the Kinghts did all their damage in the opening 40, scoring three first-half tries to outside backs Cooper Vuna, Akuila Uate and Junior Sau, to totally dominate the home side.