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Five Key Points - Sharks v Knights

1 The record breaker
He must have started to think it wasn't meant to be.

Eclipsing that elusive try scoring record was proving difficult for Valentine Holmes as he attempted to better the mark of 19 four-pointers in a season, a record he jointly held with Sharks Team of the Half Century Fullback David Peachey.

Last week he had a try disallowed and was brought down centimetres short on another couple of occasions to remain on 19 for the year.

Again, as good as he played, with Holmes outstanding at the back for the Sharks, it appeared he would be denied once more, that was until a magic moment 60 minutes into the match when he hit a short ball from Chad Townsend at pace, swerved past a couple of defenders before breaking into the back field.

With just one to beat, Holmes stepped on the accelerator, easily beat the fullback and dashed the final 25-metres to score under the posts.

Try number 20, the record breaker, with Holmes now the sole owner of the Sharks record for tries in a season.

2 A selection headache
It's probably a nice problem to have, but at the same time there could be some selection headaches looming for Shane Flanagan and his coaching staff.

Ricky Leutele and Jesse Ramien, both standout performers in 2018, missed the game against the Knights with injury, with Kurt Capewell and Josh Dugan filling the centre positions.

Capewell was arguably the man-of-the-match, while Dugan showed why he has been a regular for NSW and Australia over the past couple of years.

Sosaia Feki and Edrick Lee were the wingers yesterday, with Feki back to the form that helped the Sharks to premiership glory in 2016, Lee scoring two tries and saving a couple more with some physical defence.

And that's without a mention for youngster Sione Katoa who was unstoppable and looked a cut above Intrust Super Premiership level when playing for the Newtown Jets on Saturday in their win over the Wests Magpies.

Do the math, with that adding up to seven extremely capable performers, fighting it out for just four available positions in the Sharks outside backs.

We wish Flanagan and his coaching staff all the best at the selection table in the weeks ahead.

3 Shark #524
He has patiently waited for his opportunity in the top grade, then an injury to Matt Moylan presents Kyle Flanagan, son of coach Shane, with the chance to play his first game in the NRL.

Flanagan has been outstanding for the Sharks feeder club Newtown in 2018, having represented both NSW Residents and NSW under 20's this year and is the single-season point scoring record holder in the Holden Cup competition.

He had the runs on the board and despite being just 19 years of age, his time had arrived.

A penalty against him for a high shot with his first tackle, then a fumble from an Andrew Fifita off-load could have unsettled him, but Flanagan responded with a busy debut performance.

Flanagan's support play was excellent, he was solid in defence and he didn't over play his hand in doing the job asked of him, providing a glimpse of his potential with a couple of classy touches. It was a first-up effort that definitely earned a pass mark.

With Moylan set to return Flanagan is likely to slot back into the halves with the Jets from next week, however Shark #524 showed enough to indicate he has a bright future in the years ahead and if needed in 2018 he can do the job required.

4 Is Wade the key?
Was it his best game in NRL? Probably not.

Was he the Sharks best on the day? Again, there were others who maybe had more influence on the result.

But is he perhaps the most important player in the Sharks quest for a second NRL title? Maybe so.

Wade Graham has had a frustrating season with a series of niggling injuries limiting his game time, but when he is on the field the Sharks are undoubtedly a better team.

Graham's numbers on Sunday weren't breathtaking, 12 runs for under 100 metres, but every carry of the ball had purpose.

He wasn't required to do a huge amount in defence, making 20 tackles with no misses, however many of them were bone crunchers as he looked after debutant Kyle Flanagan on his outside.

One kick was a bit dusty but otherwise he displayed his versatility with the boot as well in being given some of the general play kicking duties.

And it would come as no coincidence that Kurt Capewell, playing on Graham's left hip, was close to best on ground in taking advantage of his teammates clever ball playing.

He was a major reason the Sharks were able to lift the trophy in 2016 and a fit and firing Wade Graham might just be the key to success again in 2018.

5 A big week on and off the field
It's never planned to be that way but the game can almost become secondary to other things going on around it, Jonathan Thurston's farewell parade over the past month a case in point.

While it was an important win for the Sharks in their push for a spot in the top four, that was almost the case leading into the game with the Knights as well.

It was a media frenzy as controversy surrounded a couple of Sharks players for an off-field indiscretion early, then Matt Moylan had an injury hiccup on Thursday and was ruled out as a precaution, meaning Kyle Flanagan, son of coach Shane, was pitched into the team to make his debut.

In the meantime, the Sharks number one ticket holder in Scott Morrison was anointed as the new Prime Minister of Australia and tragically the rugby league world, a man close to many at both the Cronulla and St George clubs, lost one of the greats with the death of Lance Thompson.

All while Luke Lewis was doing the rounds and being pulled in different directions ahead of what would be his last game at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

Add to Lewy's departure the Sharks were also set to farewell Grand Final hero Ricky Leutele along with fellow Sharks NRL squad members Edrick Lee, Jesse Ramien and Joseph Paulo.

It was a big week off the field but one which thankfully ended with a winning result. Now fourth, its onwards and upwards for the Sharks in the weeks to come.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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