Jack Harbidge reviews the round six clash between Newcastle and Cronulla-Sutherland at the McDonald Jones Stadium. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Kalyn Ponga (15, 77), Mitchell Barnett (19), Kurt Mann (29), Brodie Jones (53).
Goals: Kalyn Ponga (30, 55, 77)
Tries: Jesse Ramien (23), Briton Nikora (42), Connor Tracey (62), Mawene Hiroti (66).
Goals: Chad Townsend (24, 44, 68)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
2 pts – Brodie Jones (Newcastle Knights)
1 pt – Connor Tracey (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
The Knights welcomed a somewhat rudderless Cronulla side to McDonald Jones following a week of organisational turbulence around their new coaching staff for the 2022 season.
The Sharks came out firing on all cylinders, but it was the Knights who struck first through Kalyn Ponga off the back of a well-worked shape down the Newcastle left edge. Following their opening score, the Knights took hold of the game and, following pressure built off the back of a forced goal line drop out, they scored again with Ponga producing a miraculous offload for Mitchell Barnett to cross from short range. Ponga failed to convert the considerably easier conversion and the Knights led 8-0 with 20 minutes of the half to play.
The second portion of the first half saw Cronulla get a foothold in the game promptly after the Knights’ second try. Jesse Ramien capitalized off of a high bomb that Newcastle failed to deal with and crossed under the posts to get his side on the board after The Bunker scrutinised some interference on the Knights’ catcher. With Cronulla firmly back in the contest, Newcastle kept the Sharks at arms length with a long distance try down the right edge, with Kurt Mann finishing off a pinpoint Enari Tuala kick to restore their lead to eight points after a Ponga conversion.
HALF-TIME: Newcastle Knights 14 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 6Embed from Getty Images
Cronulla appeared to come out of the sheds following the half time break re-energised and converted their enthusiasm into points with Briton Nikora crashing over on a lead line down the Cronulla right edge.
With the lead cut to just two points, the two sides traded sets for the following 10 minutes before Jack Williams made a dominant but dangerous tackle in midfield to give the Knights a penalty. It proved to be costly with Ponga producing another excellent offload for Brodie Jones to score in the ensuing attacking series.
Cronulla’s resolve, however, saw them reply soon after through Connor Tracey to cut the lead to four points with just over 17 minutes to play. Buoyed from the try, the Sharks out-worked the Knights for the next few sets and reaped the rewards with The Bunker ruling that Mawene Hiroti had used every inch of the pitch to stay in bounds and get over for what looked to be the match-winning score with 10 minutes of the game to go.
The Knights would have the final say though, marching up the field off the back of an offside penalty to provide star-man Ponga with the opportunity to take advantage of unstructured play off the back of a duff fifth tackle kick from Blake Green and score the match-winning try.
FULL-TIME: Newcastle Knights 26 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 22
Hymel Hunt (Knights) – hamstring
Match Review Committee
Aiden Tolman (Sharks) – Grade 1 Crusher Tackle – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban.
Jack Williams (Sharks) – Grade 1 Dangerous Throw – Early Guilty Plea $1150 fine.