Almanac Rugby League – A Knight to forget

The Knights somehow lost to the Bulldogs after leading 22-6 at halftime and Ben Barba put his hand up for try of the year honours.

Since getting a clip over the ear for using the term ‘mongrel’ too much at my first Knights home game in ’88, I have been a Newcastle diehard. I’ve got the Knights tattoo and ‘former’ wedding ring to prove it and after all these years of watching them play, I don’t understand how we lost that game.

The first half was tough to watch for the most part, the Bulldogs kept turning the ball over on the first or second tackle and the Knights would get to their kick but a lot of the time it would be ordinary.

It was very much a day of rocks or diamonds for both teams. Mullen’s first kick was rubbish and was caught on the full in goal easily but his second was spot on with Gidley outleaping Barba and diving over the try line to give the Knights the lead with only five minutes gone on the clock.

A lot of dropped ball and some ill-discipline marred the next 20 minutes of the game with the Bulldogs gifting the Knights two penalty goals to extend their lead to 10.

It wasn’t until the 28 minute mark that we finally saw some action. A Kasiano short ball on his own 40m line put Romelo through a hole. He passed to Morris who stepped the fullback and ran the rest of the way to score under the posts. I didn’t like watching it and I especially didn’t like watching it on replay.

For all the Knights possession and the Bulldogs errors, a 10-6 scoreline filled me with dread. If you have that much ball, you have to be able to turn it into points. With 10 minutes to go in the first half, the Knights finally started to get going.

A Fa’aoso try from basically nothing and then Tetavano diving on a Mullen grubber sent us to the break with a 22-6 lead. That was far more indicative of how the teams had actually been playing in my opinion but as it turned out, it wasn’t enough.

In the second half I felt completely helpless. Watching Mullen’s first bomb go uncontested and then watching the Bulldogs march 80 metres in the ensuing set, I knew we were in strife. The Knights appeared to be in cruise mode hoping for Bulldogs errors but the Dogs had decided to play football and it was working. It took them just 18 minutes to arrest the deficit with some huge go forward from Kasiano and Paea which led to tries from Turner, Idris and Reynolds.

Trailing 22-20 with 10 minutes to go, enter Ben Barba. In the 70th minute, he swooped on a Bulldog pass that went to ground, jinked off his left and scored next to the left hand upright to give the Bulldogs the lead for the first time in the match and sending me into a swearing tirade.

I was disappointed but had accepted defeat when Barba chose to insult me further. In the 75th minute, after Morris put Wright down the left hand touchline with only the fullback to beat, the Bulldogs winger chipped ahead for Barba to chase and in something that has to be seen to be believed, Barba grabbed the ball from outside the field of play, jammed it down millimetres inside the dead ball line then face-planted and somersaulted all while going at top speed. If it’s not a contender for try of the year it is a great display of desperation akin to the face slide Luke Lewis performed a couple of weeks earlier when attempting to score.

Given how easily the Knights conceded in the second half, I hope that they don’t make the finals as they will be humiliated if they perform to the same standard and that will be embarrassing to watch. My focus now turns to fantasy football where Souths make up a large part of my team. I’ll be cheering them on for a massive game against the Knights next week and given that I might be in the fantasy Grand Final, I hope we get thrashed.

BULLDOGS 32 (Tries: Barba 2, Morris, Turner, Reynolds, Idris Goals: Turner 4/6)
KNIGHTS 22 (Tries: Gidley, Fa’aoso, Tetavano Goals: Gidley 5/5)

Venue: ANZ Stadium
: 3-Barba (BUL), 2-Reynolds (BUL), 1-Kasiano (BUL)

Daniel ‘Spides’ Dwyer

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