Bulldogs earn Knights revenge in ‘dark day’ response

Murray Wenzel |

Bronson Xerri scores: Even the Knights were impressed by Canterbury’s thirst for battle.
Bronson Xerri scores: Even the Knights were impressed by Canterbury’s thirst for battle.

Cameron Ciraldo never brought up last year’s “dark day” as Canterbury prepared to face Newcastle again.

But their 66-0 defeat last June was clearly on his mind, with the coach begrudgingly acknowledging the NRL turnaround after they crunched the Knights 36-12 on Sunday.

The new-look Bulldogs dominated despite the early loss of forward Chris Patolo to a knee injury, improving to 3-4 as Newcastle sunk to 2-5.

“We’ve got better every week,” Ciraldo said.

“Three (wins) from seven; I’d like to be one or two more wins ahead of that, but we’ve given ourselves a chance to win.

Cameron Ciraldo.
Ciraldo acknowledged last year’s drubbing from Newcastle was ‘a dark day for us’. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

“We’re learning along the way and today was a culmination of a big seven weeks for us. “

Ciraldo said with 12 new players in the side not involved in last year’s Knights shocker, that match had not been mentioned.

“I didn’t want to talk too much about last year,” he said. “It was a dark day for us.

“But in saying that … we’ve come a long way – everyone can see that – but we have a long way to go.”

So motivated were Canterbury that Knights coach Adam O’Brien later said his men, who finished fifth last season, needed to replicate the Bulldogs’ joy for the contest.

“We’re playing like a frustrated footy team,” he said.

“The Bulldogs, Dragons are good examples of teams that didn’t have a great seasons last year and they’re loving footy at the moment and being in the grind.

“We’re not enjoying it at the moment because the expectation is, ‘We played well last year’.

“We’ve got to go back to find our love of the game.”

AAP