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Cogger, Pryce give AOB selection headaches as Knights down Sharks

Jack Cogger starred in his return appearance for Newcastle as the 2023 premiership winning and English import Will Pryce ensured Round 1 selection headaches for Knights coach Adam O'Brien.

Cogger, who began his NRL career in Newcastle eight seasons ago, came off the bench midway through the first half with Cronulla leading 12-0 and immediately stamped his mark on the game with a 40/20 kick.

The 26-year-old finished with a try and combined well with halfback Jackson Hastings, who produced three try assists, as the Knights took control to lead 24-12 at half-time and ran out 44-18 winners.

O'Brien must decide between Cogger, Hastings or Tyson Gamble for his two halves spots in the Round 1 match against Canberra, while Pryce also gave him another welcome headache in his first appearance for the club.  

Jack Cogger Try

Pryce, who - along with Test second-rower Kai Pearce-Paul - has moved from England to Newcastle , can also play in the halves but his second half performance at fullback would surely have O'Brien considering a spot for him.

The former Huddersfield playmaker scored a try and laid on another for rookie winger David Armstrong, who also impressed in his 40-minute performance. 

Sharks hooker Jayden Jayden Berrell opened the scoring in the ninth minute after passing to prop Oregon Kaufusi near the Newcastle tryline and positioning himself to receive an offload and cross for a try.

Jayden Berrell Try

The Sharks were in again just three minutes later after prop Tom Hazelton offloaded and five-eighth Daniel Atkins raced into the clear before kicking ahead for Tonga winger Sione Katoa to score. 

Sione Katoa Try

After being called into action in the opening seconds to replace Krystian Mapapalangi (HIA), NSW U19s centre Kyle McCarthy got the Knights on the scoreboard in the 18th minute after winger Laitia Mocedreike tapped back a Jackson Hastings kick.

Kyle McCarthy Try

Panthers premiership winner Jack Cogger made an immediate impact in his return to Newcastle by producing a 40/20 kick with one of his first touches of the ball after replacing Tyson Gamble at five-eighth during the 20 minute drinks break.

Dylan Lucas scored in the 29th minute after halfback Jackson Hastings turned the ball inside for the Knights second-rower, who was making an angled run, and Cogger converted to level the scores at 12-12.

Interchange hooker Riley Jones put Newcastle in front for the first time in the 37th minute after dummying and racing 15 metres from dummy half to score.

Riley Jones Try

With just a minute remaining until halftime, Lucas grabbed his second try after racing to collect a Hastings kick to give the Knights a 24-12 lead at the interval.

Hazelton was sinbinned in the 50th minute and Newcastle took full advantage, racing in three tries against the 12-man Cronulla outfit.

Thomas Hazelton sent to the sin bin

Rookie winger David Armstrong scored in the 52nd minute and laid on the next one after English recruit Will Pryce sent him racing down the touchline before he kicked ahead for Cogger to regather and cross under the posts. 

Pryce, who played three seasons for Huddersfield, then grabbed a try of his own in the 58th minute after swerving around fullback opposite Kade Dyles to score untouched.

William Pryce Try

Armstrong, 22, scored his second try in the 65th minute after winning the race for a long kick from Pryce to put the Knights further ahead 44-12.

Rookie playmaker Thomas Rodwell, the son of former NSW Origin centre Brett Rodwell, scored a consolation try for the Sharks 13 minutes before fulltime. 

Tom Rodwell Try

Match snapshot

  • Rookie Newcastle centre Krystian Mapapalangi had a horror start to his first match back from an ACL injury after being KO'd tackling Sharks five-eighth Daniel Atkinson from the opening kick-off.
  • Knights forwards Sebastian Su'a and Riley Jones were placed on report in the 30th minute for a heavy tackle on Sharks winger Samuel Stonestreet.
  • Su'a, who joined Newcastle from Auckland's Mt Albert club, ran a game high 118 metres with the ball. 
  • English fullback Will Pryce, the son of St Helens great Leon Pryce, made his first appearance for Newcastle after being thrust into action after halftime.
  • Sharks prop Tom Hazelton was sin-binned and placed on report in the 50th minute for a high shot on Knights lock Mat Croker, who was forced from the field for a HIA. 
  • The Knights picked up the maximum 15 points with 12 for the win and bonus points for five tries, five line breaks and 10 offloads.

Play of the game

Jack Cogger came after 20 minutes with Newcastle trailing 12-6 and changed momentum almost immediately with a 40/20 kick. At halftime, the Knights were leading 24-12.   

Cogger nails a 40/20

What's next

The Sharks meet the Bulldogs at Belmore Oval next Friday in the second round of the NRL Pre-season Challenge, with the Knights taking on the Storm in Fiji on Saturday night.

Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon is expected to give stars Will Kennedy, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Toby Rudolph, Jesse Ramian, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Briton Nikora and Dale Finucane a run against Canterbury.

Newcastle also have some big name stars who are set to play, including captain and 2023 Dally M Medallist Kalyn Ponga and England Test second-rower Kai Pearce-Paul.


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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