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This week in history: Rogers equals dad's points record

Cronulla Sharks fans have endured more than their fair share of heartbreak, but nothing quite tore the cardiac organ in half like the preliminary final defeat to the St George Illawarra Dragons on 19 September 1999.

With a shortened off-season due to the Sydney Olympics, players, staff and fans had no time to sit and ponder what might have been as they launched into the 2000 campaign.

Cronulla started the season well, defeating the Dragons 28-12 on the opening weekend and then easily accounting for the Sydney City Roosters 28-2 the following week.

By the time the Round 11 fixture – played during this week on the 14th of April 2000 – came around, the Sharks were sitting in fifth position on the table with five wins from ten starts, including victories over both of the previous season's grand finalists the Storm and Dragons.

Individually, Mat Rogers, Shark number 301, was enjoying a stellar season, having crossed for seven tries and kicked 31 goals for a total of 90 points (averaging nine points per game). Rogers sat atop the leading point-scorers ladder, 10 points clear of his nearest rival, Joel Caine of the Wests Tigers.

Their opponents in the Round 11 match, the Newcastle Knights, were one place ahead of the Sharks in fourth position.

On paper, the Friday night clash shaped as a must-watch match between two genuine premiership contenders, with a number of players vying for test selection.

The Sharks boasted genuine superstars in Andrew Ettingshausen, Rogers and enigmatic fullback David Peachey. While on the other side, the Novocastrians, led by future Immortal Andrew Johns, featured a young Timana Tahu, Robbie O'Davis and Adam MacDougall.

Cronulla scored early with hooker Dean Treister barging over from close range. Rogers converted from next to the posts to give the Sharks an early lead.

Shortly after, Nick Graham executed a pinpoint chip for a flying Ettingshausen who caught and passed in the one motion to Rogers who scooted away to score under the posts. Within 20 minutes, the Sharks were looking every bit the team that claimed the minor premiership a season earlier as they raced out to a 12-0 lead.

As the halftime siren echoed out over the mangroves of Woolooware Bay, the crowd were treated to some David Peachey magic when he leapt high into the sky to gather a Matthew Johns chip and sliced through the defence, into the back field to put the Sharks out to a 18-0 lead.

As Ettingshausen led the team to the sheds at the interval, legendary commentator Ray ‘Rabs' Warren said: "If there's such a thing as a perfect half, I think the Sharks might have just had it."

Three minutes into the second half and it went from bad to worse for the Knights when Timana Tahu dropped the ball with Newcastle deep on the attack. Rogers scooped up the ball and raced 70m to score under the posts to put the game beyond reach at 24-0.

Paul Mellor and Chris McKenna found their way onto the try-scorers list before Rogers sent the crowd into a frenzy with another length-of-the-field effort.

Rogers threw the conversion over from in front to draw level with his famous father's individual record of 26 points in a single match for the club which had stood since 1977.

As Mat was returning for the kick off, the cameras captured him gesturing to his father in the crowd, a candid father-son moment between two club legends.

With the result a forgone conclusion, the commentators' attention turned to the possibility of Rogers breaking his father's record.

From the ensuing kick-off, Newcastle kicked the ball out on the full, gifting Cronulla a penalty on the half way line. Cheekily, Rogers grabbed the ball and put two fingers up, gesturing to his skipper that he wanted a shot at goal, an audacious attempt to eclipse his father's record.

Stand-in skipper David Peachey turned down Rogers' request, instead instructing Mitch Healey to kick the ball into touch. At this time, Sharks Immortal Steve Rogers, who was the Sharks CEO, had made his way to the sideline, practically acknowledging that his record was set to be broken as the Sharks heaped wave after wave of attack on their opponents.

With seven minutes left on the clock, the coverage cut to Steve Rogers who was being interviewed on the sideline by Channel Nine's Andrew Voss. Steve was quick to point out that when his record was set in 1977 tries were only worth three points.

Newcastle scored two late tries, the final score 42-16.

But the night belonged to Shark number 301 Mat Rogers, who ended the night with three tries and seven goals from seven attempts in a man-of-the-match performance. The night also saw Rogers surpass 1000 points for the Sharks in what was an absolute demolition of a hapless Newcastle Knights side.

A snippet from Rugby League Week highlighting Rogers' effort.
A snippet from Rugby League Week highlighting Rogers' effort.

Many found it fitting that Mat didn't surpass his father's long-standing record that evening. Instead, having both father and son as equal top point scorers, even if only for a brief period of two seasons, was truly remarkable.

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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