NRL Match Report – Sharks v Knights
In a performance that pleased coach Shane Flanagan while finally giving the home fans something to sing about, the Sharks broke a 10-game home losing streak at Remondis Stadium with a 22-6 win over the Newcastle Knights.
In slippery conditions with the rain becoming increasingly heavy as the match wore on, the Sharks controlled proceedings for most of the contest, with a Chris Heighington try seven minutes from time conforming the result.
The win was the Sharks second in succession and their first at home from four starts in 2015.
The two match began with the two teams exchanging penalty goals before a second Michael Gordon two-pointer put the Sharks on top 4-2 some 20 minutes into the match.
Shortly after the Sharks would add to their lead and it was Jack Bird, the youngster creating space for his outside men after beating a couple of defenders, before backing up to take the last pass to score in the south-eastern corner.
Gordon narrowly missed the conversion attempt but it was 8-2 Sharks.
The Sharks remained on the attack and this time it Bird again the creator, a flick pass putting Beale away, who then passed to Valentine Holmes, with the fullback chip kicking over the last line of defense for Luke Lewis to cross.
Gordon was off target into the southerly breeze but the Sharks had a handy 12-2 advantage.
The Sharks dominated field position for the remainder of the half and despite a couple of close calls were unable to get over the line, with the home team going to the break up by 10.
‘Super sub’ Ben Barba was injected into the game for the final 10 minutes of the half in the fullback role, with Gordon coming from the field and Holmes shifting to the wing.
And just five minutes after the break it was that man Barba in the action, scoring his first try in Sharks colours when accepting a pass from Sosaia Feki after the winger had won the ball in an aerial contest against his opposite number.
With Gordon off the field Holmes attempted the kick at goal but from wide out it was unsuccessful, with the Sharks now ahead 16-2 some 45 minutes into the match.
Those early points proved vital, with the heavy rain storm continuing to sweep across the ground, making attacking football difficult and the next 20 minutes of the game went without further any addition to the score line.
A penalty against Kade Snowden put the Sharks into their best attacking position for some time and had Andrew Fifita held onto the last pass they may had extended their lead as an opportunity went begging.
Encouraged by the let off and on the back of a repeat set of the Knights would get their only try of the night when Akuila Uate slid over in the corner, but when Heighington crashed through adjacent to the post just a few minutes later the match was as good as over with the Sharks now 16-points in front.
The Sharks had a concern late in the game when Barba was assisted from the field with a knee problem, however the early diagnosis indicated the injury wouldn’t be a long term one.
In what was perhaps their most complete effort of the season to date the Sharks had a number of strong performers, with Michael Ennis, a worthy winner of the Harvey Norman Man of the Match, having his best game in Cronulla colours.
While well marked in his third game in the NRL Bird again had some classy touches as he scored a try and had a hand in another.
The Sharks will now take a couple of days to rest and recover before getting back to work in preparation for a match against the defending premiers the South Sydney Rabbitohs in their next assignment on Monday night.
That match will be played at Remondis Stadium on April 20.
Jack Bird, Luke Lewis, Ben Barba, Chris Heighington tries, Michael Gordon 2, Valentine Holmes goals
Akuila Uate try, Tyrone Roberts goal
Crowd – 10,057