A James Maloney field goal was the final nail in the coffin as the Sharks ran out victorious over Newcastle 19-18 this afternoon at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The Sharks and Knights opened proceedings by paying tribute to the late Sharnie Kimmorley, with Brett and his daughters standing on the field - a moving way to start an afternoon of football and a lovely gesture from one of Brett's former clubs.
Gerard Beale opened the scoring after six minutes, with a nice kick from Chad Townsend getting the Sharks' back in behind the visitors' defensive line. A huge surprise to them and a wake up call to look around!
Joe Wardle retaliated not long after with a try from a small grubber kick by Brock Lamb, levelling proceedings at 6-all. From there a wave of penalties saw the Sharks constantly attacking the Knights' line. By the third penalty in a row, the Sharks opted to take the two points. The Knights had not taken possession for 13 minutes by this point, and Maloney added the two to take the hosts ahead.
A long pass to winger Sosaia Feki saw him cross out wide for the Sharks in the 32nd minute, Maloney's conversion pushing the home team to a 14-6 lead, as they headed into the sheds for half time.
The first 10 minutes of the second half were a bit of park footy, with possession even between the sides. A line break by Valentine Holmes saw him burst downfield, with Jack Bird running in support. Holmes passes to Bird, Bird passes back to Holmes, and the Sharks' fullback scores - a fantastic four-pointer. Maloney was unable to convert, keeping the Sharks' lead at 12 points.
The game was back and forth once again for the next fifteen minutes, with Newcastle awarded a scrum 90 metres away from their try line, given by a ball ruled forward by Holmes. From the scrum, Brendan Elliott found the afterburners, rampaging down the field leaving Sharks chasers behind in the dust, and the resulting try saw the visitors back into the contest. Jacob Gagan closed the gap further to 18-16 before Trent Hodkinson's conversion leveled scores at 18-all.
With three minutes left Cronulla's maestro half struck the one-pointer which delivered the Sharks and veteran forward Chris Heighington a victory in his 300th game - an afternoon which also marked the anniversary of their first game fifty years ago.
Trailing 19-18 inside the final minutes, Newcastle had one more roll of the dice but Trent Hodkinson spilled it with a late chance to level things and the Sharks were able to play the game out in the dying seconds.
The Sharks are away at AAMI Park next Sunday vs Melbourne at 4pm in the Grand Final re-match. Newcastle are at home in the Hunter and take on the Bulldogs on Friday night.