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Bulldogs, Manly, Gold Coast post wins to share top rung in NRL

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SYDNEY - Aiden Tolman scored a try in the 73rd minute to give the Bulldogs a 16-12 win over Newcastle in Australia's National Rugby League, denying the Knights an emotional victory in honour of injured teammate Alex McKinnon.

Second rower McKinnon, who suffered a broken neck while playing for Newcastle on March 23, was a surprise spectator at the eighth-round match at Sydney's Olympic stadium. He visited the Knights dressing room before play began and watched the match from the coaches' box.

But Newcastle's effort to honour McKinnon with their third win of the season was frustrated by Tolman's late try which gave the Bulldogs their fifth-straight win, lifting them to the top of the table.

Newcastle had seized a 12-10 lead with a 53rd-minute penalty which followed tries to James McManus and Robbie Rochow but couldn't hold out the strong finish of the Bulldogs.

Captain Kurt Gidley said the Knights had been inspired by McKinnon's presence and were disappointed not to present him with a win.

"He's got a great attitude, Alex, and it's great to see him with a smile on his face," Gidley said. "It was a nice surprise today.

"I'd seen him in the hospital but none of us knew he was coming to the game. It was an instant smile on my face when I saw him today.

"That's why it was hard to see him after the game because we couldn't get a win for him."

Manly joined the Bulldogs atop the table on Sunday when they romped to a nine-try, 54-18 win over Canberra, while Gold Coast also crowded onto the top rung of the ladder with a 22-6 win over Wests.

Wests also had a chance to go top but their second loss in their last three matches left them alone in second place.

Peter Hiku scored four tries between the fourth and 58th minutes and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans had a hand in six of the seven tries Manly scored before halftime on the way to its sixth win of the season.

"Everything we threw up stuck, passes just stuck and sometimes that happens I suppose," Manly coach Geoff Toovey said. "It was a really, really professional performance.

"I think the players worked really had in that first half and did a fine job and some of those passes that haven't been sticking stuck."

The Sydney Roosters beat St. George Illawarra 34-14 for their fourth win from eight games while Souths beat Brisbane 28-26 to leave both teams also with 4-4 records.

Cronulla beat Penrith 24-20, North Queensland beat Parramatta 42-14 and the New Zealand Warriors recorded their first win under stand-in coach Andrew McFadden, upsetting Melbourne 16-10.

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