The Newcastle Knights are off to a brilliant start in 2021 after a 30-10 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs in wild conditions in Newcastle.
After scandals rocked both clubs during the off-season, new Newcastle co-captain Daniel Saifiti led from the front in his 100th game, scoring the first double of his NRL career in his first game in charge.
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The teams were met with wild scenes as the heavens opened early with torrential rain hammering the ground just before kick-off.
And it paid off for the Bulldogs immediately with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scoring the first try diving into the corner.
He then slid 10m over the deadball line as the slick and slippery surface played a role.
DWZ slides his way to four points ☔#NRLKnightsBulldogs#NRLTelstraPremiershippic.twitter.com/9zsngbABRB
But Saifiti, who shares the Knights’ captaincy with Jayden Brailey, responded to the Bulldogs’ first try after just three minutes, charging over the line after seven minutes.
He then scored seven minutes into the second half as well as the Knights built up a 32-10.
“This is a captain’s knock,” Dan Ginnane said in Fox League commentary after the second try.
The co-captains for the first game of the season were announced during the off-season after Mitchell Pearce stepped down as captain after a flirty text scandal rocked his personal life and the club.
Daniel Saifiti had a massive game.Source:FOX SPORTS
Post-game, Saifiti told Fox League that the middle forwards “took it personally”.
“It was first round, we knew it was going to be wet weather footy and we knew we had to roll up our sleeves and do the tough stuff,” he said.
“It was my 100th game and the meat pies were just a cherry on top. To get the win at home and running them out, I got goosebumps, I’m not going to lie.”
The Knights then announced Kalyn Ponga, Mitch Barnett, Blake Green, Saifiti and Brailey as the leadership group for the club with all the players getting the run at the title.
But leading from the front, Saifiti also ran 174m in 19 runs, while front row partner David Klemmer ran 205m in 23 runs.
Second rowers Mitch Barnett and Tyson Frizell also ran 179m and 180m respectively.
It was particularly good for Origin forward Frizell on debut for the club.
Tyson Frizzell has gained 150 metres and counting – just the tenth time he's done so in 178 NRL matches. Loved what I've seen from him tonight, change of scenery seems to have done him a world of good.
Goes ok, this Tyson Frizell, reckon he’s got a future. #NRLKnightsBulldogs
For the Bulldogs in their first match under Trent Barrett, new halfback Kyle Flanagan looked good early.
Started so well for the Bulldogs.Source:Getty Images
NRL legend Phil Gould tweeted early in the match that “Kyle Flanagan could put his hand down a toilet and pull out a gold watch at the moment. Everything he has done is perfect.”
But it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs continue to be a project as the club look to return to success.
@NRLKnights forwards dominated this one. Everything flowed off them. Great sub Connor Watson too. @NRL_Bulldogs still a work in progress. #NRLknightsbulldogs
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