By Diego Arellano
Newcastle have moved to the top of the table after picking up their second big win in as many weeks with a 44-12 drubbing of Canterbury at Belmore Sports Ground last Saturday.
Looking for their 5th win of the season, the Knights quickly set the tone for the match when lanky winger Josh Mantellato crossed over out wide after just two minutes into the match.
Playing at home, the Bulldogs would have been out to impress after only registering one win so far this season and also being thumped by the Wests Tigers the week before. But they saw little ball early on and the Novacastrians took full advantage.
Newcastle went in again in the 8th minute when Pat Mata’utia jumped highest and won the ball to a cross kick. Josh Mantellato converted to make the score 10-0.
Former Raiders prodigy Travis Waddell created the next try three minutes later when he lofted a wonderful twenty-metre pass to winger Chanel Mata’utia, who then palmed off his opponent before diving over in the corner.
The mountain became that much harder to climb for the Doggies after the Knights posted two more tries midway through the first half. Blockbusting second rower Jeremy Siulepa burst through the line from twenty metres to score in the 18th minute and his partner in crime James Elias crossed over just minutes later. Mantellato converted one of the tries and the flood gates were well and truly opened at 24-0.
A lacklustre Canterbury struggled to make any headway in the game but started enjoying more possession in the latter stages of the opening half.
The locals finally opened their account six minutes from the break thanks to replacement forward David Minute barging over. And when captain Lloyd Perrett replicated Minute's effort on the stroke of half time the Bulldogs were back and barking at 24-12.
Any hope Canterbury had of making a comeback was all but wiped out just two minutes into the second half after a Michael Dobson cross kick was taken 20 metres out by Mantellato. He then passed it to Pat Mata’utia who offloaded for captain Matt Hilder to score.
From there, the match turned into a dire encounter as the Knights dropped a couple of gears and both sides went through the motions.
It wasn't until the 69th minute that the visitors got the scoreboard ticking again thanks to yet another Dobson cross kick resulting in an unmarked Brayden Williame collecting the ball before strolling over. Mantellato had an unhappy day with boot and missed the conversion to keep the score at 32-12.
Nathan Ross scored a solid solo try in the 74th minute after a forty metre run saw the busy fullback beat several defenders to plant the ball down beside the posts.
The icing on a very big cake was put on with under two minutes left when Pat Mata’utia picked up his second try for the afternoon. Mantellato's goal giving his side a much deserved 44-12 victory.
The Knights will head to Ringrose Park on Sunday to face Wenty while the Bulldogs will face the Bears out at Sportingbet as part of a huge afternoon of footy at the venue.
Newcastle Knights 44 (P Mata'utia 2, C Mata'utia, J Mantellato, J Siulepa, J Elias, M Hilder, N Ross, B Wiliame tries; J Mantellato 4 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 (D Minute, L Perrett tries; P Templeman 2 goals) at Belmore Sports Ground.