The Cronulla Sharks have defeated the Newcastle Knights 26 points to 18 at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday afternoon
The conditions in Newcastle were perfect for rugby league, with the sun out and the pitch fast and dry.
It didn’t take long for the Sharks to get on the board after a series of 5th Minute. Valentine scored out of dummy half after Luke Lewis went close to scoring for the Sharks.
James Maloney made no mistake with the conversion attempt and the Sharks were ahead 6-0 after 7 minutes.
With Old Boys day being celebrated in Newcastle, there was a lot of energy around the ground with the Knights faithful showing up in numbers.
The parochial crowd though did not intimidate Sharks debutant Jesse Ramien, who received the ball inside his own half before shrugging off three would-be Knights tackles to make a solid run in his debut match.
Chad Townsend scored after taking the ball to the line and shrugging off a few Knights defenders to go over for the Sharks’ second try of the day. Maloney converted the try to take score to 12-0.
Playing full of confidence, Andrew Fifita took the ball to the Knights line before drawing in the defenders and offloading to his front row partner Matt Prior.
Prior hit a gap at speed and was in the clear before offloading to Jayden Brailey who was steaming through on the inside to score his fourth try of the 2017 season.
Maloney converted once again and the score went to 18-0 after 20 minutes.
The Knights hit back next though after a series of simple penalties earnt the home side easy field position.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon received the ball close to the line and ran onto the ball at pace to push his way through some easy Sharks defence to score his side’s first try of the day.
Hodkinson converted from in front and the score went to 18-6.
In what was almost a carbon copy of their first try, the Knights scored their second of the day when once again Fitzgibbon crashed over from close range off a short ball from Danny Levy.
When the teams returned from the break, both teams were high on energy and it was showing in their play.
With points needed to secure victory, the Sharks were awarded a penalty close to the Knights line and decided to take the to points of offer.
James Maloney had no troubles with adding the extras and the score went to 20-12.
The Sharks lifted the game through a series of quick play the balls and it would be the skipper who would really spark his side in the second half.
Running down the right hand side of the field, Gallen took on a group of Knights defenders before driving his legs and then looking for an offload. Getting the ball free, Gallen found debutant Jesse Ramien flying through on his inside.
The young Sharks centre found a gap and pinned his ears back to score his first ever NRL try and take the score to 24-12.
Maloney converted his fourth goal of the afternoon and the Sharks were ahead 26-12.
Maloney turned try-saver in the 57th minute, when he threw a pass to Luke Lewis only for the 300-gamer to drop it cold. Nathan Ross scooped on the loose ball and was heading off down field before Maloney put on the afterburners to bring him down in midfield.
The Knights were unable to go on and score and we remained at 26-12.
The scores did not remain this way for long though as the Knights continued to pressure the Sharks defensive line, working their way deep into Cronulla territory. Danny Levi spotted an opportunity out of dummy half and took it to cross over for the Knights’ third try of the afternoon.
Hodkinson converted the try and brought the scores into 26-18 the Sharks way with 16 minutes left in the game.
The next period of the game was a frantic one, with both sides experiencing periods of pressure however neither converting into points. The Knights would come close though in the 78th minute when they put together some flashy play however it would come to nothing and the score would remain.
Now, the Sharks will be awaiting the result of this afternoon’s clash between the Canterbury Bulldogs and St George Illawarra Dragons to see whether we take on the Penrith Panthers or North Queensland Cowboys.
Cronulla Sharks: 26 Tries: Holmes, Townsend, Brailey, Ramien Goals: Maloney 4/4 convs. 1/1 pen.
Newcastle Knights: 18