Knights make tough work of Sharks victory

Newcastle got home against a spirited Cronulla today at Ausgrid Stadium, but it was a result not confirmed until the final minute as the Knights held the Sharks out 24-20 in front of 12,796 Novocastrians.

It started in Cronulla's favour with Newcastle's starting lineup heavily depleted with the loss of Issac DeGois, Adam MacDougall, Cory Paterson and Dan Tolar, a host of fringe first-graders and debutant Tyrone Roberts filling in for their first-choice injury-hit players.

It would be the Sharks who opened the scoring, identifying some weak right-side defence from the Knights, Anthony Tupou sending Ben Pomeroy over for a 4-0 lead. Newcastle hit back to lead 6-4 through Wes Naiqama, before Cronulla leapt back in front thanks to Nathan Gardner's try - a product of a great Albert Kelly line-break.

From there Newcastle seemed to assert their dominance of the game, the home side piling on two tries in the minutes before halftime to take an 18-10 lead. A Kurt Gidley field goal attempt on the siren sailed wide.

The Knights extended their lead to provide enough of a buffer early in the second half through Junior S'au. From there, they would be forced to hold-off Cronulla, who came home with a wet sail. John Williams crossed out wide to close the deficit to 10, before Gardner's second just 5 minutes before fulltime had the Knights worried.

A final flurry from the Sharks produced some entertainment (and controversy after Gardner was taken out without the ball, but no penalty awarded), but the Knights held their own and managed to improve their record for 2011 to 3 wins, 3 losses. Despite their competitive streak, the Sharks are now just 2 wins and 4 losses, and have some work to do next week.

Speaking of next week - the Knights travel to the Nation's Capital for an Easter showdown with the last-placed Raiders, while the Sharks host North Queensland.

Match Details
Newcastle Knights 24 defeated Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20
National Rugby League - Round 6 - Sunday April 17, 2011 2:00pm
Venue: Ausgrid Stadium
Referee: Jason Robinson and Phil Haines
Video Referee: Tim Mander
Touch Judges: Steve Chiddy and Ricky MacFarlane
Crowd: 12,796
Halftime: Newcastle Knights 18 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Jarrod Mullen
2 Points - Nathan Gardner (2 Tries)
1 Point - Kurt Gidley (4 Conversions)

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (24)
Tries: Wes Naiqama, James McManus, Junior Sau, Shannon McDonnell
Field Goals: Kurt Gidley (0/1)
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (4/4)

CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (20)
Tries: Ben Pomeroy, John Williams, Nathan Gardner (2)
Conversions: John Williams (2/4)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Ausgrid Stadium the venue today, formerly known as EnergyAustralia Stadium here in Newcastle. The Knights and Sharks will go toe-to-toe.
Team Changes: Cronulla are easy - just #17 Dean Collis drops off the bench, #18 Johnny Mannah takes his place.
Newcastle a raft of changes. MacDougall, Tolar and DeGois are all OUT. Con Mika and Steve Southern will start, Shannon McDonnell comes in at fullback with Naiqama at centre. New bench is 13. Edwards, 16. Fa'aoso, 20. Tyrone Roberts (on debut), 22. Mark Taufua.
3 min: Solid start from both sides getting use of the full length of the field following the opening sets.
5 min: PENALTY Knights and they get through their set in an attack zone, six more added to that after Junior S'au forced an error. The Knights can't capitalise though.
9 min: PENALTY to Cronulla, Uate (NWC) holding down too long.
11 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Ben Pomeroy. Conversion attempt by John Williams unsuccessful.
The Sharks shift it right with success, Anthony Tupou with a great inside offload to Ben Pomeroy who carries a couple of defenders over the line out wide. John Williams' conversion attempt... terrible. Goes wide.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4-0
13 min: The Knights make good inroads and force a repeat set off a Mullen bomb, but the next play the ball goes wide to Uate who goes in to score... but it's called forward. Questionably too.
16 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible Newcastle try. Naiqama and Uate went up, we're not sure who's got the hand to it. Decision pending...
17 min: TRY
TRY Newcastle Knights
Scored by Wes Naiqama. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Naiqama is ruled to have plucked a Jarrod Mullen cross-field lofted kick. Uate may have got a hand to it before Naiqama did but the try is given anyway. Gidley puts the home side in front with the world's worst successful conversion attempt.
Newcastle Knights 6-4
19 min: Knights get into a decent position in their next set, put the high ball up and while it appears Shannon McDonnell was obstructed, the penalty goes to the Sharks after Naiqama took Gardner high.
21 min: The Knights sacrifice possession trying to push an offload in an attacking position, letting the Sharks off the hook.
27 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Nathan Gardner. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful.
Albert Kelly dummies, takes the line on and gets through - Nathan Gardner is in support and the Sharks are back in front. Williams has no trouble adding the extras from in front.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10-6
30 min: Naiqama makes an incisive run which takes his side within 20 metres of the Sharks line but the play breaks down from there, a couple of tackles later on the last the Knights don't find Mullen or Gidley and Taufua spills it. And now here's a PENALTY to Cronulla coming out of their own end.
31 min: Another PENALTY to Cronulla and now they're bearing down on the Newcastle line.
32 min: Jarrod Mullen makes a HUGE run down the park, bouncing off defenders before finally being brought down 30m out.
34 min: TRY
TRY Newcastle Knights
Scored by James McManus. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Mullen's run pays dividends for Newcastle, on the last Kurt Gidley spots the Sharks short on the left, throwing the ball wide to James McManus who levels it out wide. Gidley's conversion looks... awful, but again it's there!
Newcastle Knights 12-10
36 min: Newcastle force a line dropout and could extend their lead here with just three minutes to go before halftime.
38 min: TRY
TRY Newcastle Knights
Scored by Shannon McDonnell. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Remarkable offload from the Knights sees Gidley feed Shannon McDonnell a great ball and he goes in almost untouched under the sticks. Gidley converts and the Knights go from four down to eight up coming into the break.
Newcastle Knights 18-10
Earlier today a high-scoring Toyota Cup clash, the Sharks 42 defeated Newcastle 30.
40 min: FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT
ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Newcastle Knights
Field goal attempt by Kurt Gidley unsuccessful.
Newcastle Knights 18-10
HALFTIME: Newcastle with the 18-10 lead at oranges, Cronulla have looked good with the ball but very ordinary in defence. Newcastle are much the same but have taken greater advantage of the opportunities given to them. The real stumbling block for the home side has been their discipline, if they can stop giving away penalties, the game is theirs for the taking. Newcastle Knights 18 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 10
41 min: Second half begins.
45 min: Nothing doing thus far in the second half, both teams rolling back and forward up the field with venom but no decisive breaks or tryscoring chances just yet.
47 min: Cronulla with the first decent shot this half, but the fifth tackle grubber is taken by Uate and he makes 15 metres coming out of his own area.
48 min: An unlucky bounce from a loose Knights pass sees Cronulla knock the ball down and give the home side another six inside their danger zone.
50 min: TRY
TRY Newcastle Knights
Scored by Junior Sau. Conversion attempt by Kurt Gidley successful.
Referee Jason Robinson sends it up to Video Referee Tim Mander with Junior S'au crossing the line - possible obstruction was nowhere near the play and did not affect the tryscoring movement. Mander shows the green, Gidley converts.
Newcastle Knights 24-10
54 min: Jarrod Mullen with another busting run off a Sharks error, picks up a drop-ball on his own 40 and pushes his side inside the Sharks half. A try for the Knights here could wrap the game up...
56 min: Fifth tackle option from Newcastle is a good one, Gardner forced to whack it dead, line dropout.
57 min: The dropout goes out over the touchline with the assistance of a couple of desperate Knights players. Lucky break for the Sharks who get the scrum on their own 40m line.
59 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by John Williams. Conversion attempt by John Williams unsuccessful.
Wonderful ball wide for the Sharkies from Nathan Gardner sends John Williams over in the corner. The Cronulla #5 lines up the conversion, hits it... and it swings away.
Newcastle Knights 24-14
60 min: PENALTY Sharks, high shot from Gidley on Gallen. Penalty count is 5-1 to Cronulla. Could Newcastle's lack of discipline allow the Sharks back in this one?
62 min: PENALTY for a deliberate forward pass, or more accurately offside, against the try-scorer John Williams. Newcastle out of danger and with their second penalty of the day. And now they concede the third of the day... Newcastle will go deep into Cronulla territory here.
67 min: Both sides are making good inroads and even the odd line break over the last ten minutes, but the fifth tackle options have been ordinary at best.
68 min: Gallen chip and chase up the middle, almost gets the offload away... but it ends up with Shannon McDonnell, who hotfoots it in the other direction. Knights inside the Sharks half now with a set of six.
69 min: PENALTY Sharks, Nathan Gardner has his legs taken out from under him taking a bomb under his own posts.
72 min: A Sharks error puts Newcastle on the attack as we enter the final ten, but the Knights lose it too. Some niggle getting into proceedings too, Gidley and Gallen exchanging choice words.
74 min: Back-to-back penalties put Cronulla on the attack now, make that three, the last a high one on Nathan Gardner.
75 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Nathan Gardner. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful.
It ain't over 'til it's over! Gardner steps inside a couple to crash over beside the posts and we have a contest in the final five minutes! Williams converts.
Newcastle Knights 24-20
77 min: Sharks fans blowing up - rightfully so - after Gardner chipped ahead and was taken out by Steve Southern and no penalty blown.
79 min: An exciting passage of play inside the final two minutes from Cronulla results in Newcastle coming up with the ball.
80 min: Last play of the game after a Gidley kick out on the full, Cronulla go down the right but can't make anything out of it. Newcastle hold on for a 24-20 victory.

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