Newcastle captain Andrew Johns was today taken to hospital after being severely concussed due to a high tackle from Sonny Bill Williams. The incident occurred after just 3 minutes of play. Andrew Johns ran the ball at the Bulldogs line looking to score from close range. Williams came in from Johns' left and in a desperate bid to make the tackle, made a careless challenge that resulted in a swinging arm to Johns' face.
Johns was motionless for a number of minutes and the game was halted while trainers tended to the injured captain. Eventually a stretcher was called for along with a neck brace as the Newcastle crowd watched on in silence. As Johns was carried off, the crowd began to chant "off, off". Referee Tony Archer complied, sending off Williams and leaving the Bulldogs a man short for the final 77 minutes of the game.
The severity of the injury certainly impacted on the incident. It was a clumsy challenge that Williams will regret; however a long suspension isn't likely.
It was feared that Johns had fractured his cheekbone but scans later came up negative. A severe concussion is the diagnosis and Johns is almost certain of missing at least one week, possibly more. He will be closely monitored and a cautious approach will be needed in the situation.
The match itself was a brilliant see-sawing encounter ending with an exciting 25-24 win for the Knights. The Bulldogs started out the stronger, racing to to a 24-8 lead despite being a man down. Newcastle came out fired up in the second half and it wasn't long before the scores were level. The Bulldogs were clearly tiring and the Knights managed to capitalise. They were finally able to take the lead in the 73rd minute courtesy of a Kurt Gidely field goal.
Canterbury launched one final assault and looked to have stolen the game when Trent Cutler made a long break down the left sideline. He fired a perfect ball inside to replacement Dallas McIlwain who fumbled the ball with the try line wide open. Bulldogs' halfback Ben Roberts then had a shot at field goal in the dying seconds, only to see it fall short and hit the padding on the right-hand post. It was an exciting finish to what was an incredible day in Newcastle.