Canterbury fall to seventh place side in week one.
Canterbury were left to wonder what might have been after being bundled out of the NRL finals race by one of the dark horses of the competition the Newcastle Knights.
Indiscipline cost the Dogs at the worst possible time of the year as the Knights proved too good to win 22-6 and be standing just two wins away from a place in the NRL grand final.
The loss for Canterbury was soured even more with a severe ankle injury to fullback Ben Barba, who finished his last game in the blue and white on the bench, with the reigning Dally M Medal winner moving to Brisbane for next season.
But 2013 is still well and truly alive for the Knights who won their first finals game in seventh years, with master coach Wayne Bennett pulling the strings.
Newcastle were forced to do it the hard way early in the second half when backrower Chris Houston was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.
Canterbury grabbed a 6-0 lead inside 10 minutes thanks to a Sam Perrett try and Trent Hodgkinson conversion, as the Dogs pinned their opponents in their own half.
The Knights defence held firm under the pressure as the momentum
From their first genuine attack, Darius Boyd barrelled over from close range after latching onto Houston’s inside pass and Akuila Uate added a second when he leapt high to haul in Jarrod Mullen’s marvellous kick.
A Tyrone Roberts penalty gave the Knights a 12-6 lead at the break but the visitors found themselves a man down three minutes after the restart when Houston was sent to the sidelines for a professional foul.
But the Bulldogs failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage and Roberts increased the lead with his second penalty.
Matters were compounded for Des Hasler’s side when attacking weapon Barba went down clutching his ankle and with it the Bulldogs’ hopes of victory.
Newcastle lock Jeremy Smith then sealed the Knights path through to the next round of the finals against Melbourne, when he scored in the 66th minute.