Saturday 17 March 2018 / 05:00 PM


BULLDOGS 20 d. KNIGHTS 18 @ Belmore Oval

The hapless Newcastle Knights produced arguably the biggest choke of 2017, while young half Brock Lamb endured two horror moments in the dying stages in a madcap finish that sent departing Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds out as a Belmore winner.

THE MATCH: The Bulldogs needed just six minutes to get on the scoreboard through winger Kerrod Holland, but they found the Knights’ defensive resolve difficult to break for the ensuing 70 minutes.

Peter Mata’utia caught the hosts napping on the cusp of halftime with the Knights’ opening try, and brother Chanel – making his first NRL appearance since Round 1 last year – blazed over to score in the 53rd minute to give them their first lead of the match, 14-8.

Peter made it a double just after the hour mark, latching onto a Trent Hodkinson grubber, and the listless Dogs looked certain to run out of time as they stared down a 10-point deficit.

But rookie winger Marcelo Montoya dived in with five minutes left to give the home side a glimmer of hope, with Holland converting from the sideline.

Incredibly, Brock Lamb’s kick on the Bulldogs’ 20-metre line with two minutes to go was charged down by Moses Mybe, who regathered and sprinted 70 metres for the leveller. Holland coolly slotted the extras to edge the blue-and-whites back in front.

It only got crazier from that point.

Several Bulldogs players mobbed Holland in celebration, only to be informed by a trainer there was still time for the Knights to restart before rushing back to their side of halfway.

Then man of the hour Josh Reynolds inexplicably took out a Knights player from the short kick-off, leaving Lamb with an opportunity to send the match in golden point.

It’s probably one he wishes he never had, however, compounded his howling error with one of the worst goalkicking shanks of the season.

THE MAN: In a relatively low-quality match dominated by the calamities near the end, our best-on-ground nod goes to an honest front-row toiler. Aiden Tolman racked up 155 metres – behind only fullbacks Hopoate and Ross – and reeled off a game-high (11 clear of his nearest rival) 43 tackles in a typically wholehearted 80-minute display.

THE MOMENT: Lamb only has himself to blame for the embarrassing goalkick after fulltime, putting himself in that position with a diabolical piece of play that gifted the Bulldogs the match-winning try. Taking the ball to the line and attempting to thread it through was never on under the circumstances. It ruined an otherwise sound display from the recalled halfback, and hopefully it will prove a valuable learning experience rather than a confidence-shattering gaffe for the talented youngster.

[YouTube – NRL 2017]

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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