The Newcastle Knights have caused an early boilover, beating NRL heavyweights the Bulldogs 20-16 at ANZ Stadium.
The Rick Stone coached Knights looked extremely focused and have obviously pulled together after a tough offseason of a controversy.
With a glut of early possession and good field position, the Knights were well served by their dynamic outside backs, the likes of Uate, Vuna and Sau – all extremely fast and powerful.
Up front Ben Cross looked to be a man reborn as did veteran Steve Simpson – who looked the best he has been in years. Hungry and dominant, the Knights were steamrolling the Dogs and did enough damage early to hold the Canterbury side out.
As Knights halves Mullen and Dureau controlled play well and kicked astutely, Cory Patterson was shouldering extra workload up front and his dangerous offload was back.
The Bulldogs were ambushed and several errors kept them without the ball as they struggled for answers.
Canterbury eventually got the scoreboard ticking, with Morris proving again he will have no trouble finding the line.
Hooker Michael Ennis will find himself in strife for a high hit on Matt Hilder – amazingly, the hit wasn’t even penalised.
Ennis struggled with his conversions also, his failed attempts costing the Bulldogs an unlikely victory.
While Luke Pattern was strong at the back and Steve Turner was solid, the Bulldogs were caught short with Nanai having a forgettable game in defence as did Ben Roberts in the halves.