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Newcastle Knights 16 v Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 26
at EnergyAustralia Stadium
Referees: Ben Cummins
The Cronulla Sharks have cemented their place in the NRL top 4 with an outstanding albeit controversial come from behind victory over the Knights in Newcastle. The Video Referee was called upon 3 times in less than 10 minutes in the second half to judge on 3 possible Knights tries and came up with the red light on each occasion.
An uneventful start by both teams was erased in the 22nd minute after Anthony Quinn crossed for the first of his 2 first half tries. A great run and an even greater pass by Carmont put Quinn on his bike for his second try which was converted by Johns, giving the Knights a commanding 10 point lead going into the break.
Stuart Raper must have uttered some inspiring words to his players at half time, as by the 6th minute of the second half the Sharks found themselves in front for the first time, courtesy of back to back converted tries to Nigel Vagana and Brett Kearney. Andrew Johns replied instantly, sending prop Craig Smith over close to the posts, putting the novocastrians back in the lead.
The Knights lost some attacking edge when Kurt Gidley came out of a tackle clutching at an injured right leg, and he left the field never to return. A Covell penalty goal put the Sharks within 2 points of the home team and with 20 minutes remaining, the match was there for the taking.
However 3 no try decisions by the Video Referee in the 62nd, 65th, and 69th minutes had Knights fans seething, and they may have had a fair case for the first and second decisions, but the third red light came about through some great defensive work by Sharks fullback David Simmons, knocking the ball out of Todd Lowrie's hands as he was about to ground the ball. Cronulla then made their way up field for Beau Scott to score in the corner, which was beautifully converted from the sideline by Covell. From there the Sharks kept their heads and added further insult to injury via a second try to Vagana, darting from dummy half and exploiting some tired Knights defense.
For the Sharks, Brett Kimmorley was impressive and certainly put his hand up for a State of Origin recall, and his combination with Adam Dykes should see the Sharks trouble all-comers in the next 10 weeks leading up to the finals. Brett Kearney's impact off the interchange bench was superb, making several breaks up the middle of the field as the second half wore on. At fullback, Simmons' play to knock the ball from Lowrie's grasp will be looked upon as the turning point of the match as far as Sharks fans are concerned, for the next set seen them score and take the match and the 2 points away from Newcastle.
Andrew Johns never stopped trying for the Knights, and he was ably supported by Buderus, Carney, Quinn and Kurt Gidley prior to his injury. Next week the Knights make the tough journey to Brookvale to take on Manly, while the Sharks make the even tougher trip north to face the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Newcastle Knights: 16
Tries: Anthony Quinn(2), Craig Smith
Goals: Andrew Johns 2/3
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 26
Tries: Beau Scott, Nigel Vagana(2), Brett Kearney
Goals: Luke Covell 5/5
Halftime: Knights 10-0
By the Clock:
The Knights take on the Sharks in Round 16 action, live from Energy Australia Stadium, Newcastle.
For the Knights, Nathan Hinton comes in to play fullback in place of David Seage. The Sharks will lineup as per program.
1 min: KICK-OFF Andrew Johns kicks off and we are underway.
14 min: NEWS Both teams are getting good second phase play but defence is overshadowing attack thus far.
22 min: KNIGHTS TRY
Quinn scores in the corner after great lead up work from Buderus and Kurt Gidley. Johns has the shot at goal from the sideline which is away to the left.
27 min: NEWS Carney goes over in the right corner for Newcastle but the play is called back for a Johns forward pass.
35 min: KNIGHTS TRY
Quinn crosses for his second as Carmont attracts 2 defenders and slips a pass giving his winger a clear passage to the line untouched. Johns converts from close to the sideline.
37 min: NEWS Johns has an unsuccessful shot at field goal just prior to halftime.
40 min: HALF TIME We go into halftime with the Knights leading 10 points to nil.
Penalties: Sharks 3-2
Completions: Knights - 16/20 Sharks - 17/22
Tackles: Knights - 179 Sharks - 155
41 min: KICK-OFF David Simmons gets play started in the second half.
43 min: SHARKS TRY
Vagana scores a great try under the posts after an outstanding no-look pass from Greg Bird. Covell converts.
46 min: SHARKS TRY
Brett Kearney scores after backing up Gallen, who was put through a gap by a Dykes inside ball. Covell converts from in front.
51 min: KNIGHTS TRY
Andrew Johns runs to the line before passing on the inside for Smith to score beside the posts. Johns converts to put the Knights back in the lead.
55 min: KNIGHTS INJURY Kurt Gidley is assisted from the field, unable to put weight on his right leg.
59 min: SHARKS PENALTY GOAL
Danny Buderus is penalised for stripping the ball in a 2 man tackle. Covell converts an easy shot from in front to reduce the Knights lead to 2.
62 min: NO TRY An Andrew Johns cross field kick is knocked on by Reegan Tanner, resulting in a touch and go no-try decision by the Video Referee.
65 min: NO TRY Simmons drops a Johns bomb, leaving Quinn and Albert challenging for the loose ball. Quinn wins the race but the Video Referee says NO TRY, knock-on by Quinn.
69 min: NO TRY David Simmons makes the play of the night (so far), slapping the ball out of Lowrie's hands as he is about to score. NO TRY - 20 metre restart.
71 min: SHARKS TRY
Beau Scott scores in the corner, following good passing plays from Williams, Kimmorley and Covell. Covell's conversion from the sideline is superb.
76 min: NEWS Hinton is tackled over the sideline just metres out from his own line. The Sharks now have the chance to put the result beyond doubt.
77 min: SHARKS TRY
Vagana darts from dummy half on the last tackle and plants the ball down to seal the game for the Sharks. Covell adds the extra 2.
80 min: NEWS FULL TIME The Sharks take the cash in arguably their best away win of the season so far after being down 10-0 at halftime.
Penalties: Sharks 5-3
Completions: Knights - 26/37 Sharks - 31/41
Tackles: Knights - 314 Sharks - 262
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Brett Kimmorley (Sharks)
2 - David Simmons (Sharks)
1 - Brett Kearney (Sharks)