Canterbury coach Des Hasler has played down the seriousness of a wrist injury to halfback Trent Hodkinson during his side’s thrilling 20-18 NRL win over Newcastle.
Hodkinson was felled in a brutal hit by Tariq Sims just after setting up Tim Lafai for a try midway through the first half, immediately going off and failing to return.
Second-rower Frank Pritchard is also in danger of missing time after being put on report for a ‘coathanger’ on Jake Mamo in just the third minute.
Hasler insisted Hodkinson’s substitution was precautionary and said he would go for scans when the team returned to Sydney.
“We didn’t want to risk him – that’s why he didn’t come back on in the second half,” Hasler said.
“There’s always the option of resting him next week. We’ll wait and see how he comes up.”
The visiting Bulldogs were pushed all the way by a Knights outfit celebrating Kurt Gidley’s final home game and 250th NRL match.
Pritchard looked to have secured a win when he dummied his way over to give his side a 20-12 lead in the 63rd minute, however an inspiring individual effort from Gidley seven minutes later set up a grandstand finish.
The Knights had a number of chances to steal the win in the closing stages, but the Bulldogs held on to extend their winning streak to four and move to fifth on the ladder with just one regular-season game to go.
Newcastle’s Sims opened the scoring when he followed a 12th-minute Gidley chip towards the corner that was overrun by Nathan Ross and Brett Morris.
Gidley’s sideline conversion was met with a roar from the crowd of 23,604.
However, the Bulldogs raced in three straight tries to Curtis Rona, Lafai and Damien Cook – the first being a 95-metre intercept and the last being an impressive 45-metre burst out of dummy-half – to take a 14-6 lead at the break.
Newcastle pulled to within two points after halftime, Ross chasing down a Tyrone Roberts grubber in the 52nd minute, before Pritchard restored the two-try advantage not long after.
Knights interim coach Danny Buderus praised his team’s fight on what was an emotional evening in the Hunter.
“The belief was there from the first minute to the 80th. They nearly stole it,” he said.
“It was disappointing at times … but the fight was there; the belief was there. And that’s what I was after.”