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Victory at a cost - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sun, 18 Mar 2007 19:37:00 GMT

The knights celebrated their first win under new coach Brian Smith but it may have come at a very big price for halfback Andrew Johns who may have to miss some game time.


Johns was taken from the field on a stretcher, and ultimately to hospital, in just the fourth minute of Newcastle’s 25-24 victory after a Sonny Bill Williams high tackle.

The young Canterbury star - who just signed a new five-year deal with the Bulldogs- was sent from the field by referee Tony Archer for the infringement.

Channel Nine is reporting that Johns has been severely concussed, but has been cleared of basically anything else.

Down to twelve men after belting ‘Joey’, the Bulldogs surprisingly had far the better of the remainder of the first half. Shortly after the controversial dismissal of their marquee youngster, Canterbury registered three tries- scored by Ryan, Patten and Maitua-to open up a stunning 18-2 lead.

Newcastle rallied with a try to debuting hooker Terence Seu Seu, but when Holdsworth shortly afterwards found an unmarked Cutler who scored, the ‘Doggies’ had a 24-8 lead heading into the half.

However, the sixteen point advantage at the interval was insufficient, as being down a man began to really bite the visiting canines in the second half.

Converted Perry and Polglase tries got the Novocastrians close, then another debutant, winger James McManus, finished the evaporating of Canterbury’s lead with a 58th minute try that tied the scores.

The Knights had one attempt at a go-ahead score denied when Seu Seu’s second try was disallowed due to an obstruction call on Newton, but Kurt Gidley made sure they wouldn’t be denied again with less than eight minutes left.

Gidley, perhaps Newcastle’s best after moving up into the halves from fullback following Johns’ early belting, potted a field goal to make it 25-24.

Newcastle then survived Canterbury’s closing lunges- a pass from Andrew Ryan when the blue-and-whites were on the break was ruled forward, Dallas McIlwain dropped a Cutler inside pass to end another break, and finally, Ben Roberts’ field goal attempt in the final minute hit the goal post padding.

Post-match, Gidley didn’t express surprise at Newcastle’s second half comeback.

“I felt pretty good at halftime…our motor was still pretty good” he told Fox Sports.

He credited a tempo-upping for the Knights’ turn of fortune.

“I think we just played with a lot more intensity and speed.”

The Bulldogs travel to Penrith next week, whilst the Knights play the Dragons.

And with thoughts of next week, even after the glories of this season-opener, and the scrutiny that is sure to follow the events of this game, comes the sobering reality of top-flight rugby league, repeated by Gidley just moments after Newcastle’s triumph.

“We’ve got to do it again next week.”
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