Fourth-placed Newcastle Knights looked to hop off the roller-coaster and claim their first set of back-to-back wins since the opening two rounds when they faced a Canterbury Bulldogs side at the foot of the ladder.
With the game being played in horrible conditions, the first points were vital with both sides feeling him out in the opening stages.
In the 7th minute, Bradman Best relieved a little bit of pressure as he broke for 70metres from his own try-line but he was wrapped up by Nick Meaney who won the ball back for Bulldogs.
It took 12 minutes for the first points, and out of nothing, the Bulldogs took the lead.
Lachlan Lewis kicked down the right touchline on tackle four, which was snapped up by Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and thrown back inside to Kerrod Holland.
Holland was tackled but managed to play the ball quickly, and with Lewis at first receiver, he popped the ball to Aiden Tolman in support who slipped off the Knights tackles to score.
In the 20th minute, Canterbury should have extended their lead as another fourth tackle kick, this time from Kieron Foran, was sitting up in the in-goal area and Jake Averillo raced onto it but failed to ground the ball to let the Knights off the hook.
A few minutes later, Andrew McCullough slipped when making a tackle and picked up a severe hamstring injury, which brought Connor Watson onto the park at hooker.
Things went from bad to worse for Newcastle when on the half-hour mark, Watson then dropped to the ground under no contact and also had to be carried from the field, with a potential Achilles injury.
Kurt Mann moved to dummy-half, with Kalyn Ponga moving into the halves alongside Mitchell Pearce.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 0-6 Canterbury Bulldogs
Two minutes into the second half, Canterbury were within two metres of the Knights line, and after a short pass from Marshall-King, Raymond Faitala-Mariner spun out of a tackle and dropped over the line.
With the in-goal areas not training particularly well, the ball was holding up nicely, and this was important in the Bulldogs third try.
Foran’s kick ricocheted off Herman Ese’ese which caught Ponga off balance and despite a desperate attempt from the forward to slap the ball over the in-goal, the wet surface meant the ball stop dead and Averillo dived on top to ground the ball.
The Knights were not helping themselves, as handling errors and penalties allowed Canterbury to camp deep inside their half.
Just after the hour mark, Newcastle finally cracked Canterbury’s defence.
Josh Jackson dropped the ball 25-metres from his own line, and two tackles later the Knights spread the ball right through Ponga and Tautau Moga to release Hymel Hunt, who made the ran nearer to the posts and dot down.
Newcastle began to work themselves back into the game, as the wind was keeping the Bulldog’s kicks from making any distance.
Pasami Saulo went inches close on a fourth tackle, but the fifth tackle play brought nothing and the visitors had a chance to escape.
Moments later, Brandon Wakeham’s kick went out on the full and the Knights wouldn’t let the Bulldog’s off the hook this time.
Kurt Mann scooped the ball up from dummy-half and pushed a pass to Sione Mata’utia, who ran straight over the smaller Marshall-King and cross the try line.
Ponga converted to make it 12-18 with nine minutes remaining.
After peppering the Bulldogs line for the next five minutes, there was plenty of chance for the Knights to go level, but Ponga’s kick was too heavy for Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
Time ran was running out for Newcastle though and the Bulldogs held on for the two points in a shock win over the Knights.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 12-18 Canterbury Bulldogs
Ponga, Tuala, Moga, Best, Hunt, Mann, Pearce, Klemmer, McCullough, J. Saifiti, Fitzgibbon, Mata’utia, Barnett
Interchanges: Guerra, Ese’ese, Watson, Saulo
Tries: Hunt, Mata’utia
Goals: Ponga (2/2)
Meaney, Watene-Zelezniak, Holland, Averillo, Montoya, Foran, Lewis, Tolman, Marshall-King, Napa, Jackson, Faitala-Mariner, Thompson
Interchanges: Wakeham, Katoa, To’omaga, Ogden
Tries: Tolman, Faitala-Mariner. Averillo
Goals: Averillo (3/3)
Referee: M. Cecchin
Touch Judges: Z. Przeklasa-Adamski, K. Badger
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)