In a tight match, Newcastle ran away with the win against the Sharks in the final six minutes in front of a home crowd of 21,813.
The Friday night clash between the Newcastle Knights and the Cronulla Sharks was overall disappointing, with both sides getting off to a slow start, failing to score points in the opening forty. Even though errors are bound to be made in the first round of the season, the match felt more like a trial than a round one NRL match.
The first points came from Shaun Johnson who kicked a penalty goal for the Sharks early in the second half. Kalyn Ponga kicked a penalty goal for the Knights just three minutes later. Soon after, Tim Glasby scored the first try of the afternoon, giving the Knights a six-point lead. A controversial try was awarded to Cronulla with less than ten minutes to go and the scores were once again even. However, Edrick Lee managed to score for Newcastle in the last few minutes, securing the win for his new team.
It was a low scoring affair, the Knights winning 14 points to 8. Neither side played their best, and have plenty to work on in the coming weeks to make 2019 a successful season.
Completion Rate Dilemma
A team will always walk away from round one with important things to improve on in their game. One of the things Cronulla needs to work on is their completion rate, which is something that has always been an issue for the team. The Sharks finished the match completing 62 per cent of their sets, the Knights completing at 79 per cent. In order for Cronulla to maintain possession and put points on the board, the club works on minimising simple errors in order to have a successful 2019 season.
Promise for New Recruits
Both the Sharks and the Knights gained a few players in the off-season, all of whom have the potential to be strong assets for their new club. Edrick Lee is one of Newcastle’s new recruits, who left the Sharks at the end of the 2018 season. He showed plenty of potentials to be an important player on the Knights’ roster for the 2019 season and in the years to come. Similarly, Shaun Johnson and Josh Morris show plenty of promise for their new club.
Potentially Controversial Call
The only try Cronulla scored was in the final ten minutes of the match, and was the result of a potentially controversial call. It was Josh Dugan who lost control while attempting to ground the ball, however, winger Sione Katoa was taken out, giving the video referees reason to believe Katoa would have successfully scored a try had he been given the chance to. The Sharks, therefore, were awarded a penalty try, which has raised eyebrows.
Plenty of Improvement
At times, the match looked like a trial game, with both the Knights and the Sharks struggling in certain areas of their game that need to be improved upon so that they are able to progress through the season. The match overall wasn’t the most entertaining to watch. There were too many stoppages as a result of errors and possession turn-overs, which ruined the momentum of the match. Both sides have plenty to work on in the coming weeks.
Newcastle Knights 14
Tries: Tim Glasby, Edrick Lee
Goals: Kalyn Ponga 3
Tries: Sione Katoa
Goals: Shaun Johnson 2
Newcastle Knights: 1 Connor Watson 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jesse Ramien 4 Hymel Hunt 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6 Kalyn Ponga 7 Mitchell Pearce (c) 8 David Klemmer 9 Danny Levi 10 James Gavet 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12 Sione Mata’utia 13 Tim Glasby 14 Kurt Mann 15 Aidan Guerra 16 Mitchell Barnett 17 Daniel Saifiti
Cronulla Sharks: 1 Matt Moylan 2 Sosaia Feki 3 Josh Dugan 4 Josh Morris 5 Sione Katoa 6 Shaun Johnson 7 Chad Townsend 8 Andrew Fifita 9 Jayden Brailey 10 Matt Prior 11 Briton Nikora 12 Kurt Capewell 13 Paul Gallen (c) 14 Blayke Brailey 15 Jayson Bukuya 16 Aaron Woods 17 Jack Williams