Sharks tough night in Newcastle

Former Shark Edrick Lee was both hero and villain but in the end an 85-metre intercept try has sealed a Newcastle win in the round one match played at McDonald Jones Stadium. 

Neither team was able to trouble the scorers in the first half, the game opening up in the second period but it was the Lee try in the 75th minute that would eventually give his team a 14-8 victory.  

The game-winner for the lanky winger came just a matter of minutes after he had conceded a penalty try to the Sharks for bringing down Sione Katoa without the ball in the in-goal when a try appeared certain. 

It was a disappointing start to the season for a Sharks team which created more opportunities than their opponents but unfortunately couldn't capitalise and put points in the board when it mattered. 

An early Sharks error saw the Knights go on the attack, before the home team was denied through a combination of committed defence and a lack of execution. 

Despite having a strong southerly wind at their backs the Sharks struggled for field position during the next period of the match and against an energetic Newcastle side they were under pressure again soon after. 

The Knights created an overlap, having done all the good work on the inside, but the final pass went astray, Lee failing to reel in the loose ball and still there was no score. 

The Sharks had a couple of opportunities to mount pressure, errors and poor decisions letting the Knights off the hook, with Newcastle having the best scoring chance of the first half just 20 minutes into the contest. 

Jumping high over his opposite number Shaun Kenny-Dowell had appeared to score, only for the video referee to rule he had lost the ball over the line. From that point in the first half neither side really looked likely to trouble the scoreboard operator as the teams went to the break at nil-all. 

The deadline was broken with a Shaun Johnson penalty goal in the 48th minute, but after the Sharks failed to catch the subsequent kickoff, the Knights would level with two points of their own courtesy of a simple Kaylyn Ponga penalty kick. 

A puzzling decision by the video referee, ruling against Katoa fro deliberately tapping the ball forward, denied the Sharks a try at one end, before a Tim Glasby touchdown for Newcastle with a tick over 10 to go gave them their first lead of the night.

The Ponga conversion made it 8-2 and the Sharks would be forced to play catch up. 

Chancing their arm the Sharks worked their way into an attacking zone and a cleverly placed kick from Johnson was pounced on by Josh Dugan for what appeared to be his team’s first try.

The video referee again came into play, ruling Dugan had failed to ground the ball but during the chase Katoa had been illegally tackled by Lee with a penalty try awarded to the Sharks. 

With the conversion chipped over from under the uprights by Johnson the scores were level, with a frantic final six or seven minutes to follow. 

A penalty soon after the score gifted the Sharks field position once more, putting them on the front foot and when it seemed they might score at one end, Lee had other ideas, intercepting a long cut out pass then dashing 85 metres for the match winner. 

If looking for a positive, the two Sharks debutants more than held their own, Briton Nikora punching out 80 minutes in an extremely creditable first up display, while Blayke Brailey was a solid backup for his brother Jayden in playing out the final 15 minutes of the match. 

Aside from the two youngsters, Katoa tried hard on the wing, Andrew Fifita played big minutes and made a huge contribution in the middle of the field, Josh Morris was good in defence, while Matt Moylan and Josh Dugan would have been disappointed with a couple of errors but the pair were the Sharks most dangerous with the ball in hand. 

The Sharks now have an eight day turnaround before hosting the Gold Coast Titans at Shark Park next Saturday. 

 

SHARKS 8
Sione Katoa try, Shaun Johnson 2 goals
lost to
KNIGHTS 14
Tim Glasby, Edrick Lee tries, Kaylyn Ponga 3 goals