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Recap | The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup - Round 20

Three games will be broadcast live during Round 20 of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup. Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash between the Bulldogs and Bears will screen live on Fox League, as will Sunday’s Warriors v Jets fixture. Meanwhile, the St George Illawarra Dragons and Penrith Panthers game on Saturday will stream live on NSWRL TV.

Knights v Magpies

Bulldogs v Bears

Dragons v Panthers

Warriors v Jets

Sea Eagles v Raiders

Eels v Rabbitohs


Newcastle Knights v Western Suburbs Magpies


Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v North Sydney Bears

Bears spoil the party as Bulldogs farewell club great Josh Reynolds 

Sam Kosack

Game summary

The North Sydney Bears have defeated the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 30-6, in the farewell match for Bulldogs cult hero Josh Reynolds. 

On Monday, Reynolds announced he would retire after Round 20 of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, hanging up the boots following an illustrious career that consisted of 167 NRL games, 145 at his beloved Bulldogs, and four origin appearances for NSW. 

Running out onto Belmore Sports Ground, the man of the hour was given a hero’s welcome, entering the ground to enormous cheers from Bulldogs supporters and a guard of honour consisting of the NRL team and members of the 2012 and 2014 grand final teams, of which Reynolds was a part of. 

However, despite the occasion, it would be the Bears who walked away with the two points and first place on The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup ladder.

The Bears scored first through a try to barnstorming prop Terrell May four minutes into the match. Bears captain and former Bulldog Zach Dockar-Clay broke through the line, before drawing in the fullback and sending May over. Centre Kieran Hayman converted for a 6-0 lead. 

The Bears halves combined beautifully for their second try in the 11th minute. Five-eighth Jesse Marschke pushed right before grubbering back on the inside for his halves partner, Ben Stevanovic, to regather and score to the right of the posts. Hayman converted for a 12-0 lead. 

Winger Allan Fitzgibbon secured the Bears third in the 22nd minute following a shift to the right edge, beating Harry Hayes and Jersey Flegg graduate Jonathan Sua to race away and score. Hayman missed from the sideline for a 16-0 lead.    

It took until the 30th minute, but the Bulldogs showed some bite, scoring through centre Hayze Perham. Fitzgibbon collided mid-air competing for a bomb with Sua, knocking the ball backwards towards the dead ball line before Perham showed his speed to ground the ball centimetres before it went dead. Bailey Hayward converted to make it 16-6. 

Four minutes later, Fitzgibbon found his second in the right corner, capitalising on a Bulldogs error off the kick-off. Fitzgibbon showed off his impressive speed and finishing ability to contort his body mid-air and plant it firmly in the in-goal. Hayman missed the conversion to give the Bears a 14-point lead at half time. 

The Bears continued their dominant first half seven minutes into the second half, with second rower Reuben Porter the recipient of a clever pass from hooker Tyran Ott. A short ball from Ott allowed Porter to beat the Bulldogs goal-line defence, strolling through an open gap. Hayman converted to make it 26-6. 

It took until the 71st minute for the Bears to score again, with winger Alfred Smalley finishing a perfectly executed left-side raid. Hayman failed to convert, giving the Bears a victorious final score of 30-6. 

Talking points

Despite the Bears heavy win, the story of the day was Reynolds’ final game. The Bulldogs faithful turned out to support their favourite cult hero, with cheers erupting around the ground when ‘Grub’ came back on the field with 22 minutes to go. The crowd was at its loudest when Reynolds, defending on his own try-line, plucked an intercept out of mid-air, running 40 metres before being dragged down to chants of his name echoing around the ground. 

While it may not have been the send-off Bulldogs fans and players had hoped for, Reynolds was honoured at full-time by the devoted Belmore crowd, receiving multiple standing ovations and deafening cheers from the Josh Reynolds Family Hill, named after him for the game in tribute to his service to the club. 

For the Bears, Allan Fitzgibbon was impressive all afternoon, demonstrating great athleticism to score two tries and help the Bears dominate the game, while Bulldog Harrison Edwards and Bear Elie El-Zakhem both face a nervous wait at the judiciary after being placed on report for a dangerous lifting tackle and shoulder charge respectively. 

Key moment

The Bears looked in control from the opening whistle, having the momentum for the full 80 minutes. Perham’s try in the 30th minute looked like it could have been the turning point the Bulldogs needed to wrestle back control of the game, but Allan Fitzgibbon’s second try four minutes later ensured the Bears would claim victory, and more importantly, first place on The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup ladder.

What’s next?

The North Sydney Bears look to further their lead atop the ladder, and make it four straight wins, when they take on the Dragons at North Sydney Oval on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs press on without Reynolds at Bluebet Stadium on Sunday, as they look to get back in the winner's corner against the Penrith Panthers.


St George Illawarra Dragons v Penrith Panthers

Dragons record convincing win over Panthers

The St George Illawarra Dragons continued their charge up The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup ladder with a convincing 36-16 win over the Penrith Panthers at Collegians on Saturday, on the back of doubles to Sione Finau and Treigh Stewart.

Although they conceded the first try just two minutes in to Panthers winger Daeon Amituanai, the Dragons controlled proceedings thereafter.

Two quick tries to centre Ben Johnson and winger Finau at the 20-minute mark set the Dragons on the front foot.

Another quick double blow via Stewart and Finau's second helped the Red V to a 24-10 lead at the break.

Prop Zane Musgrove and Stewart's second stretched the advantage in the second half, with sharpshooter Alex Lobb's impressive form off the tee continuing with six goals from six attempts. 


Warriors v Newtown Jets

Warriors fall to Jets in top-four encounter

Richard Becht, Warriors Media

A rearranged Warriors side fell to a disappointing 18-26 loss in their top-four Knock-On Effect NSW Cup encounter with Newtown Jets at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart today.

When winger Sanele Aukusitino scored two minutes into the second half for a 12-10 lead, the home side was in a sound position to go on with the job.

However, a 14-minute period in the middle stages of the spell would prove damaging as the Jets scored three tries to stretch out to a 26-12 advantage.

There was still enough time on the clock – 14 minutes – and when hot prospect Leka Halasima soared to snatch a Ronald Volkman bomb on the left in the 70th minute, visions of a late comeback were realistic.

The follow-up strike never came, though, leaving the Warriors short in their bid for a third straight win.

Earlier Setu Tu and Patrick Moimoi scored well-taken tries to keep the Warriors in the hunt in an error-ridden first half, when they also had to contend with a crippling penalty count.

The Jets had scored in the second minute through fullback Daniel Atkinson before Tu went over wide out for the Warriors five minutes later.

Caleb Uele’s 16th-minute try gave the Jets a 10-4 lead before Moimoi’s effort left the two sides separated by just two points at halftime.


Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v Canberra Raiders

Sea Eagles hold off Raiders in return to form

Bethany Conlon

Game summary

The Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles scored three late tries in the second half to secure a 24-18 win over the Canberra Raiders in Round 20 of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.

Heading into the match, the Raiders were looking to cement a top-four spot against a Sea Eagles side coming off a defeat to the North Sydney Bears a week earlier.

A Blacktown knock on from Canberra’s first bomb led to a repeat set, and three plays later Trey Mooney crashed over for the first try in the third minute. Five-eighth Joshua James extended the lead to six with a conversion.

Eight minutes in, Raiders hooker Dany Levi came off with a suspected fractured jaw - the same injury he suffered early on in the season.

Sea Eagles winger Raymond Tuaimalo Vaega snatched an intercept with the Raiders pressing, taking the play to within 20 metres of the Raiders' line. The Sea Eagles went through the hands to send halfback Jake Arthur over in the 10th minute. Cooper Johns missed the conversion attempt, keeping the deficit to two points.

Canberra kept the ball alive for substitute hooker Adrian Trevilyan - returning from an ACL injury - to score under the posts in the 21st minute. Joshua James landed the conversion to extend the lead.

Drawing in the Raiders' right-edge defence, Sea Eagles centre Clayton Faulalo offloaded to Vaega to put the ball down in the corner in the 25th minute.

The 12-8 halftime score remained unchanged until the 61st minute, when the Sea Eagles rolled upfield for second-rower Samuela Fainu to score off a Cooper Johns bomb. Johns slotted his first goal for the afternoon, putting Blacktown in front by two at 14-12.

On the back of consecutive sets, Sea Eagles prop and new recruit Matt Lodge ducked under the Raiders' defence to score next to the posts in the 64th minute. Johns added the extras, extending the lead to eight.

Faulalo then swooped on a spilt ball from Canberra, running over the line for a try in the 71st minute. Johns’ conversion was waved away, leaving the score at 24-12.

With six minutes to go, Raiders lock Hohepa Puru burrowed over under the posts to bring the margin within six after James’ quick conversion.

The Raiders were still alive with four minutes to play, but costly errors with their last two possessions cruelled any opportunity for a last-minute draw. Sea Eagles would win 24-18.

Talking points

Danny Levi looked to have suffered a suspected broken jaw during Sunday's match, his second jaw injury for 2023.

Matt Lodge showed great form for his new club, picking up a try and playing about 60 minutes in the high-intensity match.

Key moment

Matt Lodge’s converted try in the 64th minute took the Sea Eagles' lead out to eight points, which gave his side enough momentum to go on with the win.

What’s next?

The Raiders head to Auckland to take on the fourth-placed Warriors next Friday, while the Sea Eagles take on third-placed Newtown Jets at Henson Park on Saturday.


Parramatta Eels v South Sydney Rabbitohs

Rabbitohs overcome slow start to beat Eels

Anthony Eltarraf

Game summary

The South Sydney Rabbitohs overcame a slow start - conceding a try in the first two minutes - to seal a comfortable victory over Parramatta Eels at CommBank Stadium in Round 20.

The Eels got off to a fast start, scoring through a shift to the left that saw centre Samuel Loizou dive over in the second minute.

Despite the hosts’ early try, it was all the Rabbitohs for the remainder of the half. South Sydney opening their scoring account through halfback Dean Hawkins, before Leonard Skelton went over on the right to give his side the lead.

Fullback Jacob Gagai followed suit, showcasing his agility to score his first try of the afternoon three minutes before halftime. With all three tries converted by Hawkins, the Rabbitohs were 18-4 ahead at the break.

The visitors carried their momentum into the second half with the slippery conditions not phasing them. As their right-side attack threatened, Skelton dived over for his second try of the afternoon, converted again by his halfback.

The Eels struggled to get back in the game before hooker Jayden Yates gave them a glimmer of hope just minutes later, as the young dummy-half found his way to the try-line.

There was little to follow Yates’ try as the Rabbitohs looked to seal a commanding victory, and they did just that through Jacob Gagai, who strolled over for his second try in a starring performance.

Gagai’s try secured a 30-10 victory for the visiting Rabbitohs, who got the better of the Eels for the second time this season.

Talking points

The Eels’ fast start proved a minor hurdle for the Rabbitohs, who bounced back well and stayed ahead for the remainder of the match.

The in-form Jacob Gagai starred once again for the Rabbitohs, securing a try-double along with Leonard Skelton to help the visitors to a comfortable 30-10 win.

Key moment

The Rabbitohs needed to fight back from the hosts’ opening try inside the first two minutes, and they did just that when Dean Hawkins went over in the 16th minute. The halfback’s four-pointer started the Rabbitohs' onslaught, with the visitors scoring three more unanswered tries before sealing the result with a fifth shortly before full-time.

What's next?

The 12th-placed Eels travel to Wentworth Park next weekend to face last-placed Sydney Roosters, while the Rabbitohs return home to host the Newcastle Knights, who are coming off a big victory over the Magpies.

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