Full Time
2:00pm Sun September 4, 2022
Round 25 - McDonald Jones Stadium, New Lambton / Awabakal - Crowd: 16808

Match Overview

The Cronulla Sharks have secured a home final against the Cowboys next week by downing a gritty Newcastle Knights side by 22 points in Newcastle this afternoon. It was a big clash for the Cronulla side as they were looking to secure a home final with a victory by any margin against a Newcastle side that was keen for the season to be over.

It was the visitors that started strongly, winning the field position battle and setting up shop in Newcastle's attacking third. After going close with Braden Hamlin-Uele, the ensuing tackle saw great pass selection from Blayke Brailey saw Briton Nikora crashed over for his fifth try of the season which allowed Sharks play from in front. The Sharks were guilty of blowing try scoring chances.

Newcastle were working themselves back in the contest creating chances off second phase play. Off a cheap Sharks error in their own end, Tex Hoy threw the dummy and catches the Sharks napping in defence to level the scores up at 6-6. Newcastle was dominating possession and forcing repeat sets but they were unable to find the stripe. A poor grubber kick by Adam Clune which saw Luke Metcalf scoop it up and race the best part of 100 meters to cross untouched. After being up against it, the Sharks find a way to bounce back and take the lead.

On the stroke of half-time, another Sharks mistake proved to be costly when Nicho Hynes' cut-out pass was intercepted by Dom Young. The flying Jamaican ran 95 meters to cross for his thirteenth try of the season and with the ensuing conversion, it was a 12-12 score-line at half-time. Off the kick-off to restart play, the Knights failed to recover it in the breeze and the Sharks went straight back on the attack. Nicho Hynes delivered a short pass to Briton Nikora and the New Zealand international collected his second and the Sharks hit the lead. An early kick by Chris Randall rolled a touch too long, unfortunately for the Knights it led to more points. The combination of Hynes and Matt Moylan found Ronaldo Mulitalo who had too much pace for Hoy and it was 24-12 within the blink of an eye.

A bizarre series of events followed, Adam Clune dropped a regulation pass which was toed ahead by Teig Wilton who raced away before being tackled by Tuala. From the ensuing play, Hynes' pass was intercepted in spectacular fashion by Edrick Lee. The Knights were able to roll up the field and it was Clune who turned into the provider with a spectacular show and go before finding Young to cross out-wide. This reduced the margin to eight. Cronulla re-established their dominance when Randall's pass was intercepted by Jesse Ramien who ran 100m to score, but a missed Hynes conversion kept them within reach inside the final 20. Cronulla showed their class though and it was Hynes who delivered another quality ball to Nikora to allow the Kiwi representative to secure his first NRL hat-trick.

There'll be some worries as Siosifa Talakai was injured on an apparent hip drop tackle. The offender was sin-binned and off the final set, Miller scooted his way around the defence to cross for a well-deserved try as he was the best of the park. Cronulla secured their first home final at Shark Park since 2008 where they'll take on the Cowboys in a probable Saturday night timeslot. 

3. Lachlan Miller

2. Briton Nikora

1. Tex Hoy