After a season where they have rarely been tested, recording eight wins from their eight matches, the Tarsha Gale Sharks were challenged by a committed Newcastle Knights side but managed to escape with a 40-38 win in a highly entertaining quarter final match.
The Sharks always had their noses in front but the Knights never stopped trying, with the result going down to the final whistle and the final margin a fair reflection of the difference between the two teams.
Following a year in which the Sharks have easily accounted for all eight opponents faced, both players and coaches alike agreed the close nature of the contest was just what they needed with the season now approaching the business end.
Young hooker Kaleah Salmon, who provided outstanding service from dummy half and was a tower of strength in defence, summed up the thoughts of her team immediately after the win.
“It was a good wake up call for us. The Knights ran a lot harder than we probably expected them to,” Salmon said.
The way the match began it appeared the game would follow a similar script to many Sharks Tarsha Gale games this season, with the girls jumping out to an early 18-0 lead.
The Knights however had other ideas and in gaining a greater share of possession, fought back to trail the Sharks by just 24-16 at the break.
They narrowed the margin even further in scoring the first try of the second half and at 24-22 Sharks an exciting final period of the match was guaranteed.
After a series of lopsided wins the Sharks had never really been tested but their response was a positive one, Faith Nathan, Sariah Park and Akira Kelly controlling proceedings, Salmon leading the way in defence, and the Tarsha girls would hold on in running out 40-38 winners.
The Tarsha Sharks now have a week off before playing a Grand Final qualifying match against a yet to be determined opponent.
In other Tarsha Gale finals matches, the Dragons and Panthers both won their way through in elimination finals, with the second-placed Steelers playing the third-place Wests Tigers later today.
Faith Nathan 3, Sariah Park 2, Jaida White 2, Maddison Higgins-Ashby tries, Kelly 3, Higgins-Ashby goals