Rd 18: Knights fight back stuns the Sharks
After the euphoria of the previous two weeks the Sharks have come crashing back to earth, letting an 18-0 lead slip in going down by 31-18 to the Newcastle Knights.
The Sharks were near flawless for the first 35 minutes of the match while running into a strong breeze, racing to an 18-0 advantage before a Knights try on the stroke of half time game the visitors hope.
Refocused after the break the Knights went on with the job, scoring four second half tries in registering a victory that see the Sharks anchored to the bottom of the competition ladder.
And in compounding an otherwise ordinary day for the Sharks, skipper Paul Gallen injured a bicep in the opening minutes of the second half, with an MRI later tonight to determine the extent of the problem.
Running into a strong breeze the Sharks posted first points, Luke Lewis poking through the line before off-loading for Jeff Robson to score.
Michael Gordon converted and the Sharks led 6-0 after just three minutes.
The Sharks looked as though they may had added to their advantage a short time later when a Robson kick was scooped up by Michael Lichaa however the young hooker lost control of the ball and the try was disallowed.
The next time they moved into attacking territory the Sharks wouldn’t be denied with Gallen beating a couple of tackles then finding Pat Politoni in support, before the hooker threw a perfectly timed pass for Gordon to score.
The Sharks fullback converted his own try and the Sharks had a 12-0 lead.
Still on the attack it didn’t take long for them to add to their tally, a clever exchange of passes put Sosaia Feki over in the corner and when Gordon was again on target with his kick it was 18-0 Sharks with five minutes of the first half to go.
The Knights would post their first points of the afternoon on the back of a Sharks error in the following set of six, Willie Mason running through a gaping hole in the defensive line, with the converted try seeing the teams head to the break at 18-6 to the home side.
The Knights continued to up the ante and they would be first to score in the second period, winger Akuila Uate capitalising on what was a perfect bounce for him and a wicked one for the Sharks defense when chasing a Kurt Gidley kick.
Gidley converted to make it 18-12 and that same man was in the game again not long after, slicing through from close range to score just three minutes later.
He was again on target with his conversion, locking up the scores at 18-all.
Now with the momentum running in their favour the Knights continued to attack and again they exposed some deficiencies in the Sharks defense, with Beau Scott putting his team in front for the first time after crashing over wide out.
Gidley kept his 100 per cent kicking record intact and the Knights would take the lead at 24-18 in front.
Then came the try which effectively buried the Sharks challenge, Jarrod Mullen backing up a David Fa’alongo line break then dashing 40 metres to score.
The conversion was against successful with the Knights ahead by 12 with time running down.
The Sharks tried to mount a late comeback but it was to no avail, a Mullen field goal completing the scoring.
For the Sharks Wade Graham was amongst their best and a worthy winner of the Player’s Player Award, while Gordon took away the Coaches Award.
The loss sees the Sharks remain on 12 competition points and on the bottom of the ladder with eight rounds of the 2014 season remaining.
Jeff Robson, Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki tries, Michael Gordon 3 goals
Willie Mason, Kurt Gidley, Beau Scott, Jarrod Mullen, Akuila Uate tries, Kurt Gidley 5 goals, Mullen field goal
Minute by minute scoring
3 mins – Sharks 6-0 – Robson try, Gordon goal
28 mins – Sharks 12-0 – Gordon try, Gordon goal
34 mins – Sharks 18-0 – Feki try, Gordon goal
37 mins – Sharks 18-6 – Mason try, Gidley goal
53 mins – Sharks 18-12 – Uate try, Gidley goal
56 mins – 18-all - Gidley try, Gidley goal
64 mins – Knights 24-18 – Scott try, Gidley goal
68 mins – Knights 30-18 – Mullen try, Gidley goal
75 mins – Knights 31-18 – Mullen field goal