Competition sleeper Newcastle are two games away from an NRL grand final after beating an undisciplined Canterbury 22-6 in Sunday's elimination final at Allianz Stadium.

It was the first time in seven years the Knights have won a finals encounter and the visitors were worthy victors, hammering the final nail into the coffin of a hugely-disappointing season for the Bulldogs.

Wayne Bennett, who celebrated his 28th finals win as a coach, now takes his Knights to Melbourne to play the reigning premiers in a semi-final next Saturday.

And they'll tackle the daunting assignment with fresh confidence after an impressive display before a crowd of 23,086, despite having to play with 12 men for 10 minutes after Chris Houston was sin-binned early in the second period.


Like they have been for most of the season, the Bulldogs looked a shadow of the side that marched into last year's premiership decider.

It was somewhat symbolic that Ben Barba's career with the club ended with the fullback carted off on a stretcher with an ankle injury.

The reigning Dally M Medallist had failed to recapture the heights of 2012 due to off-field issues and injury problems and his decline coincided with his side's difficulties.

Canterbury started the game strongly as Sam Perrett opened the scoring off a Trent Hodkinson kick with less than 10 minutes on the clock, and they pinned the Knights back in their own half.

However, they were unable to turn four successive sets into points and the Knights grew in stature.

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.

Skipper Michael Ennis had a brain snap when he was penalised for interfering with the play 20 metres in front of his own line and Roberts had the simple task of accepting the gift of two points.

Veteran back-rower Jeremy Smith then iced the result in the 66th minute with his second try of the year and the Knights almost added some extra gloss to the result but Houston's four-pointer was overturned by the video referee.