Prop Daniel Saifiti celebrated his 100th NRL match in fine style with a five-star performance in the Newcastle Knights’ 32-16 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
The co-captain, who led the Novocastrians into battle alongside hooker Jayden Brailey, ripped in from the start, running for 174m and scoring two tries in the process.
His front-row partner David Klemmer also starred against his former club, amassing 205m in a whole-hearted effort, while halfback Mitchell Pearce registered a couple of line break assists and laid on as many four-pointers.
Another highlight was the goalkicking of Mitchell Barnett, who booted six goals in the romp.
The dominant display certainly delighted the COVID-capacity crowd of 19,555, who’ve been starved of footy in recent months.
But, there was a minor glitch early on.
Canterbury winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossed in the third minute to give the visitors a 4-0 lead.
However, that’s as close as the Bulldogs got to their rivals.
Saifiti’s first touchdown in the seventh minute, as well as tries to Starford To’a (31st) and Barnett (38th), plus three goals to latter, allowed Newcastle to enjoy an 18-10 advantage at the break.
Second-rower Adam Elliott was the other Canterbury scorer, with Nick Meaney landing the extras.
The second 40 minutes saw the Knights flex their collective muscle even further.
Saifiti grabbed his double in the 47th minute while Bradman Best also dived over soon after.
When Barnett kicked a penalty late in the encounter, Newcastle led 32-10.
The Bulldogs secured a consolation try five minutes from full-time, to Watene-Zelezniak, to put some respectability on the scoreboard.
Newcastle Knights 32 (Daniel Saifiti 2, Starford To’a, Mitchell Barnett, Bradman Best tries; Mitchell Barnett 6 goals) defeated Canterbury Bulldogs 16 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2, Adam Elliott tries; Nick Meaney, Kyle Flanagan goals)