While the Cronulla Sharks knew that they’re playing finals football this season, the side needed a win against the Knights to give them a confidence boost heading into their elimination final scheduled for next Sunday afternoon agains the Cowboys. Given recent performances from both sides, the result could have favoured either team, however, the Sharks started with too much strength and power for the Knights to catch up to. In the fifth minute of the match, fullback Valentine Holmes crossed the line to score the opening points for the match. The Sharks continued their dominant display, with both halfback Chad Townsend and hooker Jayden Brailey crossing the line, and with James Maloney adding the extra points with the boot, the Sharks found themselves eighteen points up from the home side, who did later come after the Sharks, scoring two tries before the siren sounded for the end of the first half. The Sharks went into the sheds leading 18-12, which was a big enough lead to help them continue momentum into the second half, and win the game by a mere eight points.
Fought Until the End
The Newcastle Knights have been impressing everybody in recent weeks, proving their strengths as a team, winning a few, and coming close. Their display against the Cronulla Sharks was no different. The side fought until the end, coming close a few times, and having a few tries disallowed. Despite the lead the Sharks obtained that proved to be handy in the end, the home team wanted to give their fans something to cheer about. Lachlan Fitzgibbon scored a double, and Danny Levi scored the final try for the red and blue team during the match. Their determination was displayed throughout the game, and is reflected in the final score of the game; which is both as a result of the poorer parts of the Sharks’ display, and also as a result of the courage that the Knights have been displaying in the last month and a half of the season. The team was denied a special try in the end that would have sent their fans home with something to cheer about, which is unfortunate considering what they have been through this year and the previous two. Full credit to the Knights for continually proving to the Sharks that they were in the game too, and making it quite a close match in the end.
Completion Rates Were Poor
From both the Knights and the Sharks, the completion rates were poor, which is as a result of the incredible large amount of errors made throughout the match. The Sharks made ten errors, completing at 79%, which isn’t atrocious, however still needs to improve for them to be a chance in the finals series commencing this weekend. The Knights completed at only 66%, making fourteen errors throughout the match. This had an impact on their chances in the match, however despite this, they still managed to keep themselves competing in the match against the reigning premiers. While the Knights’ season is over, they will be able to focus on things such as completion rate, which may have a strong influence on their position next season. As for the Sharks, while they have had worse completion rates, in order to succeed in the finals series, the amount of errors they make needs to be limited to very few, in order to keep up the possession so that they are able to grant themselves opportunities to score points.
Sharks Play On
After an on and off season, the Sharks are in the finals, finishing in fifth position on the ladder. While it’s not as high as they would have hoped, they denied themselves any opportunities to jump ahead of Parramatta who comfortably edge out the top four, along with the Storm, Roosters, and Broncos. The Sharks are now set to play the Cowboys in an elimination final on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. If the Sharks want to succeed in this game and in the ones beyond in the 2017 finals series, they must step up their game and work on their weaknesses that have been shining through their performances in recent weeks. Their display against the Knights was dominant, however didn’t fully reflect their capabilities as a team. Good luck to them in the finals!
Tries: Lachlan Fitzgibbon 2, Danny Levi
Goals: Trent Hodkinson 3
Tries: Valentine Holmes, Chad Townsend, Jayden Brailey, Jesse Ramien
Goals: James Maloney 5