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The Sharks moved to a share of top spot on the NRL ladder with a 26-6 win over the Knights in Coffs Harbour on Saturday afternoon.

With Nicho Hynes and Will Kennedy in slashing form the Sharks racked up a seventh win of the season to join the Panthers, Rabbitohs and Broncos on 16 competition points.

The Sharks struck first in the seventh minute when Kennedy sliced through the Knights' left side defence to grab his 11th try of the season.

Five minutes later the Sharks looked to have a second when Hynes finished off brilliant lead-up work by Connor Tracey but the try was ruled out for obstruction by Dale Finucane in the lead-up.

The Knights came close to opening their account in the 14th minute when Tracey fumbled a Tyson Gamble grubber but Tyson Frizell was unable to ground the ball.

Kennedy opens the scoring in Coffs

Knights skipper Kalyn Ponga got his team on the board midway through the half when he took the final pass from Bradman Best to glide over and scores were locked up at 6-6.

Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo grabbed his 11th try of the season with 13 minutes remaining in the half, finishing off the slick passing of Matt Moylan and Kennedy inside him.

With 90 seconds to play in the half Knights fullback Lachlan Miller was bundled into touch deep in his own territory to hand the Sharks a chance but a forward pass brought them unstuck.

Ponga levels it up

Five minutes into the second half the Sharks went further ahead when Tracey got to the outside of Dane Gagai on the 20-metre line and scooted clear to make it 18-6 with Hynes' conversion.

A line break by Hynes in the 50th minute spelled danger again for the Knights but Best was able to track back and force a mistake with a strong tackle.

Tracey turns the screw

An offside penalty against Knights halfback Jackson Hastings gave Hynes an easy shot at goal and the Sharks extended their lead to 20-6 with 23 minutes to play.

With the Knights looking to mount some pressure a bizarre error by Ponga saw them come up empty, the skipper believing it was the last tackle and a turnover when Newcastle actually had one play left.

A penalty against Daniel Saifiti for a late tackle gave the Sharks the field position to ice the victory through big man Royce Hunt, who got through Leo Thompson's tackle and plunged over for his second try in two weeks. Hynes knocked over the conversion for a 20-point lead.

Match Snapshot

  • Knights star Kalyn Ponga left the field in the fourth minute for a HIA which he passed. He was ruled a Category 2 head knock and returned in the 15th minute.
  • Sharks prop Braden Hamlin-Uele was sent into the game in the 22nd minute in his return from a medial ligament strain.
  • Knights prop Jacob Saifiti was placed on report in the 33rd minute for a crusher tackle.
  • Fullback Will Kennedy was dynamic for the Sharks with 181 run metres, 10 tackle breaks, a try and a try assist.

Ronaldo round the back

  • Daniel Saifiti produced a strong 30-minute stint to start the match for the Knights with 126 metres from 10 runs. He finished the day with 173 metres.
  • The Sharks have now played three games at Coffs Harbour and won all three.
  • The Knights have won just one of their six away games in 2023.
  • Ronaldo Mulitalo had 19 runs for 182 metres for the Sharks.
  • The Sharks came up with 16 errors and the Knights 14 in a scrappy contest.
  • The Knights' back three of Lachlan Miller, Greg Marzhew and Dom Young combined for 47 runs and 486 metres. Marzhew also broke nine tackles.

Ponga forgets to play the ball!

Play of the Game

The full house in Coffs Harbour were treated to some fine attacking footy from the likes of Will Kennedy, Nicho Hynes and Kalyn Ponga but it was Sharks big man Royce Hunt who brought the house down when he powered over late in the game. After grabbing a four-pointer last week against Manly, Hunt made it two in two weeks when he finished off the sharp lead-up work of Hynes, Briton Nikora and Blayke Brailey. Having scored three tries in 2022, Hunt is well on track to better that tally in 2023.

Hunt's a scoring machine!

What They Said

"We are ironing out an inconsistent start to the season and we're just going on our way and trying to get better. I feel like we're playing some pretty good footy and our defence has been improving gradually. Connor Tracey just steps up, he did that last year as well. He just gets his job done. I thought Will Kennedy was outstanding today. He's been steadily improving and playing strong that was a great game he played today. There's a long way to go and I feel like we can get better." - Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon

Sharks: Round 12

"The reality is that's where we're at at the moment, knowing what it takes to win week in, week out, season on season, we're not there yet. We've shown signs this year that we are heading that way but It takes a fair bit to stick at it and do it week in and week out and we've clearly we've got work to do in that area. When Kalyn first went down, I thought 'Oh, no' because it was KP, but when I saw the tackle on the TV in the box I was OK." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien

Knights: Round 12

What's Next

The Sharks have a bye in Round 13 before a clash with the Broncos at PointsBet Stadium in Round 14.

The Knights host old foes Manly at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday afternoon in Round 13.

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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