James Maloney kicked a field goal to seal the deal for the Sharks in a nail-biting Round 5 contest against the Knights. The home side had fans on their feet as they successfully fought off a late and unexpected Newcastle surge.
In just 6 minutes, the Sharks opened the scoring with Gerard Beale miraculously planting a deep grubber courtesy of Chad Townsend. James Maloney slotted the conversion to put the home side ahead 6 – 0.
Newcastle responded in the form of Brock Lamb. The playmaker bamboozled Cronulla’s defence with his impressive stepping before offloading to Joe Wardle, who crashed over in the 14th minute. Knights Captain, Trent Hodkinson successfully converted to lock up the score board 6 – 6.
The steadfast Sharks outfit hit back, winning consecutive set of six deep inside their own half. The combination of Wage Graham, Valentine Holmes and Ricky Leutele proved troublesome for the Knights, as the trio came frustratingly close to crossing on the left wing.
The next 20 minutes were tainted by incomplete sets and unforced errors from both sides. Eventually the Knights would be penalised for holding down and Maloney would slot a penalty kick to edge the home side in front 8 – 6.
Cronulla’s backs proceeded to run amuck through Newcastle’s defence. After consecutive sets, Gallen and Holmes fired a lightening play that saw Sosaia Feki claim four points in the 32nd minute. Maloney sent the ball through the posts to propel his side in front 14 – 6.
As minutes ticked by, both sides came dangerously close to scoring. A Maloney line break had Sharks fans on their feet, but the Knights shut down any hopes of Jayden Brailey sneaking over.
Cronulla hit the sheds in front of the Knights 14 – 6 at half time.
HALF TIME 14 – 06
The second stanza kicked off with an arm wrestle as both the Sharks and the Knights completed strong sets.
In the 52nd minute, the men in Black, White and Blue would give Sharks Fans a reason to cheer. Holmes ran a whopping 60 metres, supported by Bird, to leap over on the far right. Maloney’s conversion was waved away and the Sharks would lead 18 – 6.
The Sharks continued to fire pressure deep inside the Knights territory. Newcastle would survive another scare, as Bird and Holmes were denied by the Bunker in the 66th minute.
The home side were caught off guard in the 68th minute. Fullback Brendon Elliot would unexpectedly run 90m off the back of a Knights scrum to score next to the posts. Hodkinson’s successful conversion closed the gap to 12 – 18.
The Knights took advantage of their new found momentum and the Sharks would struggle to remain composed. With just 9 minutes to go, Newcastle’s Jacob Gagan beat Holmes in a chaotic foot chase to planthis side another four-pointer. Hodkinson slotted the conversion to lock it all up 18 – 18.
The match would, however, be saved by the reliable boot of James Maloney, who kick a field goal in the 77th minute to secure his side the win.
FULL TIME 19 – 18
Tries: Beale (1), Wardle (1), Feki (1), Holmes (1), Elliot (1)
Conversions: Maloney, Hodkinson
Field Goals: Maloney (1)
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