‘Drives me mad’: Andrew Johns fumes over Reed Mahoney ‘pest’ act

Knights forward Jacob Saifiti’s perfect brainer a minute from time said it all as his side were annihilated 32-2 in Newcastle.

The Knights’ fans were strong, but they were wiped off the field, ending their four-game winning streak in spectacular capitulation.

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It was a frustrating night from the start for the Knights, who were denied a try through Greg Marzhew in the 12th minute after Bulldogs second-rower Jacob Preston made a brilliant save to drag the winger into touch before bringing him down .

From that moment on, they were all Bulldogs.

Two first half tries from Josh Addo-Carr gave the Bulldogs a 10-2 lead after 27 minutes.

Despite the lead, that didn’t stop the Bulldogs from giving the Knights the edge however they could.

With five minutes left in the first half, the Bulldogs squandered a chance to take a bigger halftime lead after a second drive on a drive that started at the Knights’ 10-yard line.

In a scene that has become fairly standard in the modern game, the breakdown descended into the pushing and shoving that NRL fans are prepared to see on a regular basis.

Bulldogs acting captain Reed Mahoney appeared to start the scuffle and referee Grant Atkins penalized Canterbury.

“Reed Mahoney is there, of course,” Cooper Cronk said on Fox League.

Atkins said, “Reed, this penalty is against you.”

Cronk added: “I think it’s a little bit, but it’s also a reputation because I don’t know that he contributed that much to that little skirmish, if you want to call it that.”

On Nine, Brad Fittler said: “Is that Pestasaurus in there?”

“Yeah, Reed Mahoney brought to you by Mortein again,” joked Andrew Johns.

“Again, it’s no punches, you can keep it up. Do you think this would have happened in the old days when you could pry one out of Les Davidson or Blocker? No.”

Mat Thompson added: “Is this the new Dally M category – pest of the year?”

But Johns was not laughing.

“I don’t even know why we’re joking about it – it makes me nervous,” he said. “It absolutely drives me.

Although the frustration didn’t boil over there, it threatened throughout the match.

As the Bulldogs piled on the points, it became increasingly frustrating for the Knights, finally boiling over in the 79th minute.

After Mahoney was lifted over the line, Saifiti let his emotions get the better of him and seemingly headbutted Mahoney right in front of referee Atkins.

There was no surprise when Saifiti was found guilty, but Johns said the problem was the ability to ignore it without fear of reprisal.

“Again, you can’t pump your fist, but they’re so frustrated they’re leading with their heads, honestly,” Johns said.

On Fox League, Dan Ginnane screamed, “Jacob, you can’t do this. Oh my god, one of the most unnecessary acts of the year.

“Reed Mahoney has entered the mind of these Newcastle Knights and it will cost Jacob Saifiti a sin.”

Cronk added: “Reed Mahoney played them all night.”

On ABC Sport, Andrew Moore said: “Jacob Saifiti might have been the biggest douchebag I’ve ever seen in my life. Referee Grant Atkins was just in his grill, and Saifiti crashed.”

Ben Quagliata of Beyond the Goal Post wrote: “This is absolutely embarrassing.”

Another fan called it “the dumbest act of the year.”

Former teammate Michael Ennis said after the match that Mahoney was able to bring out the best in the battle.

“Some people can’t relate to that and I can, sometimes when you’re in that battle it gets the best of you,” Ennis said.

“And Reed is the type of player who likes to take on opposing players, likes to be in the heat and the center of the action, and that brings out the best in him when the competitive juices are running.”

James Graham added that it was “part of our game”.

Although he said Saifiti’s actions were “illegal” and he would have to face all charges, but it was “not the crime of the century”.

In recent weeks, both Johns and Billy Slater have warned Mahoney that he is the aggressor, particularly after he hit the headlines in a tunnel brawl with Wests Tigers’ Jack Hetherington.

At the time, Johns also said the problem was that Mahoney entered the fight without fear of consequences.

“Reed Mahoney comes in as the third man and he’s done that a few times this year to get it going and keep going because there’s no fear of getting hit in the head,” he said on The Sunday Footy Show at the time.

“There’s no natural justice on the field, there’s no consequences, and for the little guys to run up to the big guys and go on and get in their faces, it makes me nervous.”

It turns out that Johns is still getting on his nerves.

But it’s another big win for the Bulldogs, who leapfrogged the Knights in the NRL ladder after a brilliant display as the club bid to make the finals for the first time since 2016.

And they’re going in the right direction for that – the Bulldogs have the second-best defense in the NRL until 2024 behind the Panthers.

That’s a far cry from last year, when the side had the worst defense in the competition, falling just six points short of making it into the top 10 worst defensive years in first-class history.

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