Canterbury Bulldogs utility Kerrod Holland

The Canterbury Bulldogs may have won the game but the talking point will be about Newcastle Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga and his injury.

Ponga will still undergo further scans midweek, with the early diagnosis a possible hamstring tear.

For the Bulldogs, the mass overhaul and cultural shift got off to the best start possible.

With no Ponga for the Knights from the 15 minute mark, the Bulldogs were able to take advantage.

It was Reimis Smith and Kerrod Holland who combined, the latter scoring the first of his two tries.

The Knights did hit back and level things up, as Jack Cogger’s kick bounced back towards them before Connor Watson scored.

Newcastle were then their own worst enemy; a dropped ball and a penalty gifted a bullocking Holland his second try.

There was a second leveler for the Knights but it came at an agonising cost.

Slade Griffin, passing to Herman Ese’ese who scored, hyperextended his knee and suffered an ACL injury.

The Knights would then hit the lead as Watson sliced through brittle Dogs defence to give the Novocastrians the half time lead.

The Bulldogs went back-to-back upon the resumption; Smith getting a try of his own before Jeremy Marshall-King scored his first NRL try.

Two further tries in the half iced the game; Fa’amanu Brown scoring before captain Josh Jackson scored in the corner.

The Knights had their chances but a lack of execution and errors cruelled their chances.

Despite going on to lose the game, there were some positives for Knights coach Nathan Brown.

“I thought we competed and our forwards worked really hard to force errors and get us back in the game, but it was more our decision-making in attack that cost us,” Brown said.

“We gave ourselves some opportunities to score, and we probably didn’t get our decision-making quite right and Canterbury held us out for a relatively lengthy period.

“At 16-12 at half-time, I was really happy given we lost what we did.”

For Bulldogs coach Dean Pay, there were just too many positives to mention.

“It’s been a long time coming for sure,” Pay said.

“That game against the Gold Coast at Belmore, it wasn’t us – tonight we spoke about it and prepared better.

“There was a lot of them [positives]. There was two kids there playing their first game of NRL tonight [Lachlan Lewis and Ofahiki Ogden] and they contributed at a high standard.

“We have got some young blokes. Reimis Smith played well and Will Hopoate was fantastic at fullback.

Player of the Game:

3. Kerrod Holland

2. Connor Watson

  1. Reimis Smith

By ricky

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