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Knights batter bumbling Sharks
The Sharks took 79 minutes to register points today as they failed time and time again to trouble the Newcastle Knights - the visitors leaving Toyota Stadium 18-6 winners today.
While the first half stayed close, both sides failed to control possession and were patchy. Just a smart wide ball to Uate allowed a four-pointer for Newcastle in the first forty - with Naiqama's conversion the Knights took a 6-0 lead into halftime as the Sharks repeatedly came close but never added points for their troubles.
A new half began and Newcastle pushed hard early, scoring after just three minutes of play - Chris Houston slotting in between some soft Sharks defence and putting his side 12 points up inside the 44 minute mark.
The remainder of the half was full of errors and penalties against the Sharks as they tried time and time again to cross the line - but it was a Junior Sa'u 65th minute try which provided the biggest talking point - referee Tony Archer referring the matter upstairs. It had appears Sa'u had lost the ball, however the video referee made "Refs Call", giving Archer the decision to say Cronulla had stripped the ball, and subsequently giving Sa'u the try.
It was this controversial decision that finally gave a large but quiet Toyota Stadium crowd a voice, and through continued toil, the Sharks eventually found the line for a consolation through Ben Pomeroy in the final minutes.
The other big talking point from the clash was the loss for the Knights of half Kurt Gidley - he appears to have dislocated his shoulder and could be facing an extended period on the sideline.
Both sides have formidable opponents next week - the Knights will host Brisbane on Friday night at home, while the Sharks face off with rivals Manly-Warringah.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6 were defeated by Newcastle Knights 18
National Rugby League - Round 2 - Sunday March 11, 2012 2:00pm
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Referees: Tony Archer and Phil Haines
Video Referee: Pat Reynolds
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall and Nick Beashel
Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 0 Newcastle Knights 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Join the conversation - follow LeagueUnlimited on Twitter and tweet about the match using the Official Hashtag = #NRLcronew.
You can also discuss the match with thousands of other fans in our Game Day Forums - click here. Fantastic looking crowd at Toyota Stadium this afternoon, the Sharks and Knights in a showdown of the Round 1 golden point losers. Both sides showed plenty of mettle but were just pipped at the post - but ironically both those victorious sides have gone on to lose in Round 2. There's a few changes, let's report those first...
Cronulla: OUT: Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Fifita. IN: Jason Bukuya (starting prop), Jon Green (bench).
Newcastle: Alex McKinnon to START, Zeb Taia to the bench.
Both sides onto the park now, and both sporting their heritage strips, with Newcastle in vertical stripes and the Sharks in the sky blue jersey with black and white hoops. Perfect sunshine day in the Shire and a near-full house.
1 min: Newcastle with first use of the ball in this one, kickoff!
2 min: Cronulla-Sutherland earn the first penalty, a little too lazy getting off the tackled player from the Knights' big men.
5 min: Bizarre passage of play, the Sharks go through with a great bust from Bukuya... the offloads are there but they find Darius Boyd, the intercept king! He's brought down on halfway. Knights now earn a penalty for a strip and will attack.
6 min: Another penalty for the Knights - they'll continue with the play, no two points this week. INJURY UPDATE: Gidley is off for Newcastle with an arm or wrist problem.
8 min: TRY
TRY Newcastle Knights
Scored by Akuila Uate. Conversion attempt by Wes Naiqama successful.
Last tackle option is a good one for the visitors with a wide cross-field kick which is tapped back - it finds it's way out to... Akuila Uate! TRY TIME! Naiqama with kicking duties in place of Gidley, slots it from the touchline.
Newcastle Knights 6-0
10 min: 40/20 Newcastle Knights
Jarrod Mullen kicks a 40/20.
No Gidley, no worries! The Knights smash a 40/20 that was very nearly a try as Nathan Gardner battled to keep it in for the Sharks.
12 min: Grubber through the line on the last from Mullen, forcing Sharks custodian Nathan Gardner to act. Line dropout, another attacking set for the Knights.
12 min: INJURY UPDATE: It's a shoulder injury for Kurt Gidley, dislocated is the report from the ground. He won't be back today.
13 min: Solid defence from the Sharks, they force the Knights into touch and finally will work the ball away from their own line.
15 min: Reports now that Gidley may return with heavy strapping.
18 min: A great set of six but no points for the Sharks, off the Knights last tackle air-ball, Carney dragged it down and found Gardner who sprinted 50 metres before Darius Boyd closed him down. They continued into the Knights' half before the last tackle option couldn't quite be converted by Ben Pomeroy in the air.
19 min: Forward pass Knights, 25m from their own line. Sharks with a real shot at points now.
19 min: Last tackle for Cronulla and they earn a penalty. Good pressure from the home side here...
22 min: The Knights defused the aerial raid from Cronulla but spilled it just two tackles in. More Sharks attack... but Todd Carney spills the beans.
24 min: Good metres off that Newcastle set of six, but the last tackle option didn't trouble the Sharks backline.
25 min: This one could be costly - Todd Carney with his second drop ball in as many minutes. Knights scrum 40m out.
26 min: Knights bullocking toward the Sharks line but Buderus, looking to climb over the defence, has lost control of the footy. Sharks scrum 10m from their own line.
28 min: These conflicting reports over Kurt Gidley continue but this sounds final - he won't be back today as the strapping experiment hasn't worked. He's now out of his playing kit. Unconfirmed rumours he may be out for the 2012 season.
30 min: More enterprising stuff from the visitors, but the last grubber just not enough and Gardner comes back with the ball. Naiqama offside on the second tackle - now the Sharks have a penalty.
32 min: Toyota Stadium erupts... then sighs. De Gois bursts through and puts a short ball inside for Tagataese, who spills his lollies over the line. Knights scrum 10m out from their own line.
36 min: Knights stampeding up the park after sustaining some pressure on their own line... but a Mullen knock on puts an end to that passage of play.
38 min: Another stunning try bombed by the Sharks, Pomeroy finds himself past a number of defenders and finds Gardner inside but the pass doesn't stick.
That's HALFTIME at Toyota Stadium. Cronulla with all the running - Newcastle with the lead. The home side has bombed countless opportunities in the first forty... the Knights have also bombed their fair share but have crossed the once for a 6-0 lead. It's going to be down to who drops less ball in the second half - so far it's been a messy but exciting clash and in the hot afternoon sun, that's likely to continue.
41 min: Time back on at Toyota Stadium. Cronulla will have the ball first.
44 min: TRY
TRY Newcastle Knights
Scored by Chris Houston. Conversion attempt by Wes Naiqama successful.
Chris Houston crashes over early after the Knights managed to get a set on the opposition line. Far too easy for the visitors. Naiqama has no trouble adding the extras.
Newcastle Knights 12-0
47 min: Good, long kick from the Sharks and a superb chase has the Knights trapped deep - tackle five and only 29m out from their own line.
52 min: Cronulla with a helpful penalty following a line break... and then the Knights are marched a further ten for backchat. It's the home side with the ball inside the Knights 20.
60 min: Nothing doing in attack from Cronulla, and the atmosphere at Toyota Stadium has been ordinary since halftime. The Knights have threatened a couple of times.
64 min: TRY
TRY Newcastle Knights
Scored by Junior Sau. Conversion attempt by Wes Naiqama successful.
Bizarre video referee decision, Reynolds sending the decision back to Archer in a refs call. Archer rules that Junior Sa'u has spilled it over the line but that's due to a strip. A try is duly given by Archer. Naiqama converts.
Newcastle Knights 18-0
67 min: Cronulla earn a penalty for a poor Knights play-the-ball in the return set and the Sharks look to make the most of that set... but it's no good on the last as McManus fields the bomb in goal. 20m restart.
71 min: Video referee denies the Sharks another try. Double movement this time.
72 min: Knights drop ball inside their own half. Can the Sharks finally trouble the scorers?
74 min: The answer was no. Final tackle options just lacking a bit of polish from the boys in the black, white and blue.
76 min: It's just not Cronulla's day. Another attacking raid finishes with poor handling and terrible execution.
77 min: Joel Edwards is down, looks reasonably innocent. He'll play the ball after the trainer assesses him.
79 min: Video referee for a possible Sharks try to Ben Pomeroy. The ball has come out of Gardner's arms due to a Knights boot.
79 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Ben Pomeroy. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney successful.
Ben Pomeroy is awarded the try as a consolation to the Sharks as fulltime closes in. Carney adds the two and that's the game. Knights win.
Newcastle Knights 18-6
That's fulltime at Toyota Stadium - Newcastle have come away with an 18-6 victory over the home side Cronulla. Huge call with 15 left to award the Knights a try to Junior Sa'u which didn't seem all there... many Sharks fans will be asking why. On the flip side, they butchered far too many opportunities to win this one.