Knights do it for Alex

On an emotional afternoon at Hunter Stadium the Newcastle Knights have thumped a rudderless Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 30 points to nil in front of 18,196 fans.

You could feel the energy in the air at a sun-drenched Hunter Stadium in Newcastle this afternoon. Already a tight bunch, the Novocastrian crowd seemed to pull together tighter in the wake of the horrible injury to youngster Alex McKinnon last weekend. Players and fans alike stood in silence before kick-off to honour the promising back rower, with Coach Wayne Bennett even joining his team in the on field huddle, along with injured five-eighth Jarrod Mullen and retired hooker-cum-trainer Danny Buderus. They say nothing in life is set in stone but after viewing the emotion and intensity in the eyes of the red and blue clad players, it really was hard to see the winless Sharks getting up, and so it proved to be.

Joseph Leilua scored the first of his treble in just the 10th minute with a characteristically powerful run. Todd Carney and Matt Prior will not enjoy video analysis next week as it was Leilua who terrorised their left edge for all three of his first half tries. Leilua really is one of those rare players who are almost unstoppable close to the line with a head of steam. In between Leilua's frolics, little half back Tyrone Roberts put the underrated Robbie Rochow through a gap to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The Sharks were their own worst enemies as they lurched from one error to the next and generally looked like a side that had just met each other. Newcastle's dominance meant that they went into the break up by 26 points.

The second half was a lacklustre affair, the game meandering along like Phil Gould on his way to the fish & chip shop. The Sharks were the main culprits, with too many unforced errors which allowed the Knights to drop their intensity. The resulting 40 minutes was not a great spectacle for the game, with the only highlight and points of the half coming from a scything 30 metre Roberts burst down the left. The Knights won't care though as they have now notched up their first win of the season as well as winning for Alex McKinnon, whose number 16 jersey will be retired for the rest of the season as a mark of respect. For the Sharks the return of representative players Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen can't come quick enough, as they should provide some much needed starch. Next week they face the Warriors back home at Remondis, while the Knights travel to Townsville for a Monday night showdown with North Queensland.

Match Details
Newcastle Knights 30 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Crowd: 18196
Halftime Score: Newcastle Knights 26 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0 Players of the Match:
3 points - Joseph Leilua
2 points - Kade Snowden
1 point - Tyrone Roberts

Tries: Joseph Leilua (3), Tyrone Roberts, Robbie Rochow, Darius Boyd
Field Goals:
Conversions: Tyrone Roberts (3/6)
Penalty Goals:

Field Goals:
Penalty Goals: Live Commentary

A very good afternoon to you all out there and a big welcome to Hunter Stadium for the match-up between the Newcastle Knights and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. And what an intriguing contest it looks like being today, with the big story being the distressing and somewhat sobering round 3 injury to young Knights forward Alex McKinnon. All the best to you Alex and your family from our online League community here at The Knights have been hit hard by injuries and hence they really haven't got going in season 2014, with a big duck egg in the Win column. There is a looong way to go though so if they can tough out a couple of wins in the next month or so they'll stay in touch. The Sharkies have not won a game yet either and are missing their mercurial enforcer/metre-eater/hard-head, one P. Gallen. At the risk of sounding uber-cliched...Both sides will be...desperate for the win.. Ugh, that hurt to type. It's Luke Wenitong here and i'll be back with you in a bit with final team lists..

TEAM NEWS | The Knights have one physical change and one jersey change going into today's game - Darius Boyd returns at fullback replacing Matt Minto. On the bench, David Fa'alogo will wear jersey #18 following the retirement of jersey #16 by the Knights in Alex McKinnon's honour

Well we're almost ready, just a condition update. It's around 24 degrees and sunny with a chance of rain but nothing that would have Noah twitchy. Looks a good pitch.

Sharks onto the field now. Knights to follow. Strap yourselves in..!

Knights players and staff in a huddle. 30 seconds silence for Alex McKinnon. It's emotional.

1: Kickoff and the Knights receive the ball to start us off at Hunter.

1: PENALTY - Knights. Sharks all over the play the ball.

2: Knights lose the ball 5 metres out. Sharks to work it out.

5: PENALTY - Knights. Knights to start their set 10 metres from the Sharks line.

Joseph Leilua makes an unforced error.

And the Knights through Joseph Leilua release the pressure again with a knock on close to the line.

7: The Knights look a little disjointed in attack early.

8: Sharks with seven tackles commencing on their 20 metre line after a Michael Dobson kick rolls dead.

9: Darius Boyd is into the thick of it with a lovely take of the Carney bomb.

Scored by Joseph Leilua. Kick to come.

Simple hands down the left side sees Darius feed Leilua stroll through a gap to score.

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts unsuccessful.

No luck for Tyrone who drags it left from the sideline.

Scored by Robbie Rochow. Kick to come.

Easy metres in that set of 6 from the Knights and Tyrone Roberts put Robbie Rochow into a gap and he's too good for the fullback. Try under the sticks.

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts successful.

Too easy for Roberts.

14: Andrew Fifita and Beau Scott at it in backplay. Looks like Roberts was hit after passing it by Sam Tagatese. Tagatese is on report.

15: PENALTY - Knights. What price the Knights to go over again here. Sharks looking brittle.

Scored by Joseph Leilua. Kick to come.

Leilua ran straight through Matt Prior and Todd Carney from 5 metres out. Willie Mason set the try up with a strong charge immediately preceding..

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts unsuccessful.

Roberts misses again from the same spot as his first attempt. This time he goes right..

18: PENALTY - Sharks. Knights holding on in the ruck for a tad too long.

20: Bit of touch footy for the Sharks who kick it twice, offload a thousand times but still can't break a committed blue and red wall. Carney handled thrice in that passage!

22: VIDEO REF. Possible Knights try to Adam Cuthbertson from a kick.

22: NO TRY. Darius Boyd has knocked on before Cuthbertson touched it down.

Adam Cuthbertson makes an unforced error.

A few offloads sees Beau Scott take it to the line and offload a speculator to Cuthbertson and he can't handle.

26: PENALTY - Knights. Dumb, dumb, dumb from the Sharks. They had the Knights on their own line but held on to Akuila the thriller for too long.

Isaac De Gois makes an unforced error.

The Sharkies had a little roll on going near half way only for Isaac De Gois to spill his beans trying to keep it going..

Scored by Joseph Leilua. Kick to come.

Hat Trick to Leilua. Geez he's strong today. It's almost a carbon copy of his second. Too big too strong.

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts successful.

Tyrone learns from his earlier misses and slots it.

33: PENALTY - Knights. Sharks inside the 10. Another try coming methinks.

33: VIDEO REF. Possible Knights try to Adam Clydesdale. On field ref has said no try...

33: No Try. Held up.

36: Line dropout Sharks after Roberts grubber was grounded by Carney.

37: Sharks can't handle a kick and it's the Knights to start a set 5 metres out.

Scored by Darius Boyd. Kick to come.

Leilua stands in the tackle and offloads to Boyd who gets the ball down with three defenders hanging off him. Stop the Fight!!

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts successful.

Straight over the black one.

40: HALF TIME: Newcastle Knights 26 leading Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0. I'm open to suggestions as to how the Sharks can come back into this game....? Anyone..? Anyone? Unless the Knights really switch off they should have their first win of the season. Do stick with us though, coz you never know...

40: Sharks on the paddock. Waiting for the Knights.

41: And we're underway. Sharks with first use of the pill. What can they conjure up?

43: Each team completing a couple of sets to start the second stanza. The Knights with a 20 metre tap and seven tackles up their sleeve.

45: Sharks with an error on the last which means the Knights will start their set from halfway.

Todd Carney makes an unforced error.

Toddy boy swoops on a loose ball and runs 55 metres. He didn't have the pace and lobbed a forward pass inside to his support.

47: PENALTY - Knights. Sharks offside from the scrum. Knights attacking 20 metres out.

48: White line fever from Akuila who attempts a barge over from close in but is well handled by the Sharks outside men. Scrum Sharks.

50: PENALTY - Knights. Wade Graham goes high on James McManus. 7-1 the penalties to the Knights.

51: VIDEO REF. Checking a possible Knights try. On field ref says no try.

51: No Try. PENALTY - Sharks. Beau Scott ruled to have taken Michael Gordon out illegally going for the high ball.

52: PENALTY - Sharks. Knights inside the ten. Good opportunity for the Sharks.

53: Scrum feed Knights. Todd Carney runs through a gap but at the last hurdle he knocks on when all that was needed was a pop back on the inside for their first try.

56: Mirror image of the Carney knock on as Michael Dobson gets through a gap close to the line but can't handle the seed and a Sharks scrum feed results.

56: Injury to Michael Gordon who has left the field with a right knee complaint.

57: Sharks knock on near halfway not surprisingly as that was the very definition of a hospital pass to Wade Graham.

58: Leilua loses it after a strong run down the left. He was sniffing his fourth bit of meat there!!

59: PENALTY - Sharks. Stripping penalty against Big Willie.

60: Line dropout Knights. Best chance of the game for the Sharks.

60: Best chance for a try that is...

62: Well that didn't go well for the Sharkies. Long cutout to Jonathan Wright looked promising but he had to reach for it and couldn't handle.

63: The intensity of this game has dropped markedly.

65: Leilua goes oh so close to his fourth again. He is just nabbed by the desperate defence. Pity for him.

66: Goodness me the Sharks lose it coming out of their own end. Not much doing for the Sharks.

67: Well the Knights lose it on attack as well. I'm trying to sell this game but it really has degenerated. Glad i'm not paying any money to watch it.

Nathan Stapleton makes an unforced error.

A promising backline move comes to naught as Nathan Stapleton loses the pill. Video ref is looking at whether Carney was taken out late as he has stayed down. Nothing in it. Play on.

70: VIDEO REF. Possible Knights try to Dane Gagai. On field decision is no try.

71: And the video ref agrees. Contentious decision but it won't mean much in the grand scheme.

71: Ooohh. Groan. The Sharks are taken into touch early in the count.

Scored by Tyrone Roberts. Kick to come.

Scything effort from live-wire half Roberts. He shows and goes and sprints 30 metres to score in the left corner. Sensational effort.

Conversion attempt by Tyrone Roberts unsuccessful.

Tyrone is unable to convert from touch.

75: Chris Heighington is lifted and dumped (legally) and loses it. Knights with a scrum feed on their own 20.

Korbin Sims makes an unforced error.

The debutant had a big Captain Cook at the defence and knocks on with the line beckoning. Unfortunate for the third Sims boy.

79: PENALTY - Sharks. Stripping penalty against Korbin Sims.

80: And that my friends is full time. Newcastle Knights have defeated the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 30-0. Thanks for joining me today and do keep an eye out for the match report which should be up soon. Until next time.