Canterbury are the latest team to suffer a major injury on the eve of the NRL finals, with halfback Trent Hodkinson hurting his wrist in a thrilling 20-18 win over Newcastle.
The NSW No.7 is understood to have torn ligaments in his wrist after being felled in a brutal hit by Tariq Sims in a try assist for Tim Lafai midway through the first half.
A number of the league’s heavyweights have been forced to test their depth in the second-last round of the year, and the Bulldogs will also have to test theirs with Frank Pritchard put on report for a coathanger on Jake Mamo in just the third minute.
The win lifts Canterbury into fifth spot above South Sydney and Melbourne, although the Storm face North Queensland later on Saturday night.
In skipper Kurt Gidley’s final home game in Newcastle and the 250th NRL match of his career, the Knights looked headed for another defeat when Pritchard gave his side a 20-12 lead in the 63rd minute.
However, Gidley set up a grandstand finish with an individual try in the 70th minute.
The Knights had a number of chances in the closing stages to steal the win but the Bulldogs hung on, extending their winning streak to four and keeping their top-four hopes alive.
Newcastle’s Tariq Sims opened the scoring when he followed a 12th-minute Gidley chip towards the corner that was overrun by both Nathan Ross and Brett Morris.
Gidley’s sideline conversion was met with a roar from the crowd of 23,604.
The Knights looked certain to double their advantage on a right-side shift not long after, however Curtis Rona intercepted on the final pass and raced 95 metres to score.
In a high-octane first half, the visitors took the lead when Hodkinson found Lafai and was felled in the same motion by Sims in the 25th.
Then Damien Cook showed serious speed to burn speedster Mamo on a 45-metre run from dummy-half in the 32nd minute to give his side a 14-6 lead at the break.
The hosts kept in touch with the Bulldogs when Ross chased down a Tyrone Roberts grubber in the 52nd, before Pritchard went over for what turned out to be the match-winning try.