The Kurri Kurri Bulldogs overcame the sending off of Justin Peterkin for an alleged head butt to rack up a 58-20 win over the Port Stephens Sharks on Saturday afternoon.
In perfect conditions at the Kurri Sportsground, the Bulldogs were a different class to their bottom-of-the-table opponents, running out 11 tries to four winners.
The result continued a difficult season for the Sharks, with the new team still winless in 2012.
Kurri, who were without Newcastle representative player and captain Jesse Royal with an ankle injury, also had to manage the last 33 minutes with 12 men after Peterkin was sent from the field.
Peterkin was in possession and had been tackled 20 metres out from the Port Stephens line when Sharks forward James McCabe reacted to something that happened in the tackle.
After the ensuing scuffle and on the advice of the touch judge, Peterkin was sent off for an alleged head butt while he was on the ground.
Kurri had made a fast start to the game in the third minute when lock Jay Stevens made a break before putting Mitch Cullen under the sticks for an early 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs extended their advantage through Shannon Tanner’s first try of his hat-trick four minutes later.
Port Stephens hit back in the 12th minute on the back of a repeat set as Roy McMahon crashed over and when Sharks prop Kurt Warden grabbed the second of his first half double, the scores were locked at 16-all nine minutes before the break.
However, it was Kurri who managed to claim a half-time lead.
James Charles made a break downfield before being taken in a try saving tackle by Sharks fullback Isaac Upton.
Kurri switched play to the right where Shannon Tanner crossed for his second, with player-coach George Ndaira adding the extras from the sideline to give the Bulldogs a 22-16 advantage.
The sending off did little to slow Kurri after the interval, with the Bulldogs adding a further seven tries to run out 38 point winners.
Kurri now move into equal second on 14 points alongside Macquarie after the Scorpions 30-28 loss to Cessnock.
The Bulldogs are at home again next Saturday afternoon when they host South Newcastle at the Kurri Sportsground.
Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 58 (Tries -S Tanner 3, M Cullen 2, G Sharp, D Abraham, B Wyborn, J Charles, M Steel, S Dunn. Goals - G Ndaira 7 from 11) defeated Port Stephens Sharks 20 (Tries - K Warden 2, R McMahon, R Cutbush. Goals - M Dews 2 from 4)