Knights put Sharks to sword in dominant first half

Fulltime score: Round 25 KNIGHTS 44 v SHARKS 14

Match summary: The Newcastle Knights have thrashed the Cronulla Sharks 44-14 in front of a huge crowd in Newcastle tonight.

Following a dominant first 40 minutes, the Knights ran in six unanswered tries to lead 34-0 at half time.

The home side extended their lead soon after the break to lead 38-0 before the Sharks finally troubled the scoreboard in the 53rd minute.

Man of the match Andrew Johns crashed through to score a few minutes later, the Knights posting 44 points.

The Sharks scored a couple of consolation tries in the final quarter but by then, the match had been won and lost.

Knights v Sharks match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game

Scorers: NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 44 Tries: Tighe, Quinn, Thaiday, Tolar, K Gidley, Newton, Cooper, Johns Goals: Johns 6/8 CRONULLA SHARKS 14 Tries: Simmons 2, Covell Goals: Covell 1/3

EnergyAustralia Stadium Crowd: 23,084 Referee: Stephen Clark Half time: Knights 34-0

Live commentary: 0 min: The Knights still desperate to avoid the wooden spoon take on the Sharks who are still a chance for the top four. Big match-up of the night will be between opposing half backs Andrew Johns and Brett Kimmorley. Massive Newcastle crowd on hand.

Kick off! 8 min: TRY - Knights. Brad Tighe scores out wide after Andrew Johns and Kurt Gidley combine. Great wide conversion from Johns. Knights 6-0

12 min: NEWS - Some concern for Sharks forward Jason Stevens is down injured and will be stretchered off, possible neck or shoulder injury.

14 min: TRY - Knights. Anthony Quinn scores near the posts following soft bust from 30m out. Johns converts. Knights 12-0

17 min: TRY - Knights. A very soft try. Milton Thaiday running onto a kick tap from close range. Knights anticipating while the Sharks are arguing the toss. Conversion attempt from Johns is unsuccessful. Knights 16-0

23 min: TRY - Knights. Daniel Tolar scores following a rebound from a Johns' kick. Conversion Johns from almost in front. Knights 22-0

30 min: NEWS - Sharks getting a few opportunities now after being unnder the hammer for much of the game. Knights dominating possession and the Sharks making too many mistackles.

34 min: TRY - Knights. A simple little pass from Johns to put Kurt Gidley over near the posts. Follows a bizarre if not brilliant passage of play where the Knights kept the ball alive, going back 30m and then kicking, and then attacking in defence to regain possession. Johns converts. Knights 28-0

37 min: TRY - Knights. Clint Newton scores ater Johns weaves his magic again. This is getting far too easy for the Knights. Johns converts. Knights 34-0

Half time: Knights 34-0 An absolute whitewash happening here in Newcastle, the home side enjoying over 60% of the posession as well completing their sets in a near perfect display. The defence from the Sharks is loose at best and the way they're playing, they should expect points to be put on them. Meanwhile Andrew Johns seems to be having a free rein to control the ruck and run at will. Full back Milton Thaiday is ripping into them as well but against this defence, that's not a hard thing to do. The Sharks seriously need to begin reading the play or this scoreline could blow out to anything.

NEWS from the sheds: Sharks forward Jason Stevens has a dislocated shoulder.

Second half underway...

44 min: TRY - Knights. Dustin Cooper scores in the corner after a backline movement, the last pass being set up by Thaiday. John misses conversion. Knights 38-0

53 min: TRY - Sharks. Luke Covell records the first points for the Sharks, scoring in the corner. Conversion from Covell is unsuccessful. Knights 38-4

57 min: TRY - Knights. Johns scores next to the posts, stepping through easily from close range. Conversion Johns. Knights 44-4

60 min: TRY - Sharks. David Simmons intercepts and runs 90m to score 10m in from touch. Covell converts. Knights 44-10

70 min: No change to score. Less intense now after the first half hiding. Crowd figure: 23,084.

79 min: TRY - Sharks. Simmons gets a double following a kick through. Conversion Covell misses. Knights 44-14

Full time: Knights 44-14 The Sharks paying the price for some atrocious defence in the first half, allowing Johns to dominate the halves and run riot. Some great work up front from Clint Newton and Craig Smith while full back Milton Thaiday offered some excellent support from the back. For the Sharks, Danny Nutley was the best in a well beaten side.

----------------------------------------- players of the match: 3 - A Johns (Knights) 2 - C Newton (Knights) 1 - M Thaiday (Knights) -----------------------------------------