The Newcastle Knights stole an astonishing miracle comeback victory, scoring 23 points in a frantic final 12 minutes to hand the Canterbury Bulldogs a demoralising 35-34 loss.
The Bulldogs appeared to have sealed the result leading 34-12 in the 68th minute, before the Knights piled on four consecutive tries to stun the home side and its crowd.
Carlos Tuimavave slotted the last-minute field goal to clinch a sensational win for the Knights.
Chase Stanley and Pat O’Hanlon from the Bulldogs were sent to the sin bin early in the second half along with Joseph Tapine and Ben Tupou from the Knights after an all-in scuffle that spilled over the sideline.
Tyrone Phillips added a hat-trick to his try scoring hot-streak in the extremely eventful match.
Jaline Graham opened the scoring for the Bulldogs when he capatalised on a Knights error and scored a runaway try from inside his own half.
Phillips was millimetres away from scoring an incredibly athletic try in the 10th minute, before the Knights marched up field and bombed a certain chance almost immediately afterwards.
The Knights eventually got on the board through Sam Mataora, who powered his way through to lock up the scores at 6-all.
Phillips scored a freakish try half an hour into the contest after he received a Lindon McGrady cutout pass inside his own half and beat two defenders on his way to the line.
An incredible offload by Jacob Loko allowed Phillips to score again in the right corner shortly after, before the Bulldogs scored one of the season’s best tries from the following kickoff.
Instead of simply taking a regular hit up off the kickoff, the ball was spread to the left wing for Damien Cook to race away and score their third long-range try of the half, giving the Bulldogs a 24-6 halftime lead.
Eight minutes into the half, both teams were reduced to eleven men due to four players being sent to the sin bin.
Both teams took advantage of the spread defence, as Phillips completed his hat-trick in the 52nd minute while Nathan Ross scored for the Knights four minutes later – injuring his shoulder in the process.
A loose pass by the Knights on their own line gifted Brad Clark an easy try, which increased the Bulldogs lead to 34-12 and seemingly put the game to bed.
However, in the 67th minute, the Bulldogs threw the ball into touch while in attack, and conceded 23 points without touching the ball again.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon finished a left hand raid by the Knights to score in the 68th minute, before Kerrod Holland ran over Graham to score off the kickoff set to decrease the deficit to 34-24.
The Knights’ unstopable momentum led for back-to-back-to-back tries with Tapine crossing the tryline. Holland missed his first kick of the day and the score remained 34-28.
Under all sorts of pressure, the Bulldogs conceded a penalty on the following set, gifting the Knights field position again before Jaelen Feeney was held up.
However, two tackles later, Fitzgibbon bent the defence backwards and used his long reach to plant the ball down and lock up the scores at 34-all with only minutes remaining.
The shell-shocked Bulldogs attempted a short kickoff that did not go 10 metres, and gave Carlos Tuimavave the field position to slot a clutch field goal and secure a remarkable victory for the Knights.
It’s one of the all-time greatest comebacks in the VB NSW Cup, and an extremely important victory for the Knights to stay in the top eight.
The Bulldogs will play the North Sydney Bears at Leichhardt Oval next week. The Knights have a bye, but will return in two weeks to take on the Illawarra Cutters at Hunter Stadium.
Newcastle Knights 35 (L Fitzgibbon 2, N Ross, K Holland, S Mataora, J Tapine tries; Holland 5 goals; C Tuimavave field goal) bt Canterbury Bulldogs 34 (T Phillips 3, J Graham, D Cook, B Clark tries; C Stanley 5 goals)