NRL Round 26: Knights 32, Sharks 6

An electric second half display saw the Knights put the Sharks to the sword on their way to a eighth straight win and a finals berth.

Result

Newcastle Knights 32
Tries: (6) Kalyn Ponga 20th; Bradman Best 48th, 64th; Dominic Young 57th; Greg Marzhew 66th; Dylan Lucas 76th
Goals: (4) Kalyn Ponga 22nd, 49th, 58th; Gagai 77th

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 6
Tries: (1) Connor Tracey 6th
Goals: (1) Braydon Trindall 7th

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Report

The Kalyn Ponga show was on for all to see at McDonald’s Jones Stadium as the Knights gave their home fans plenty to cheer for: they ran in 32-6 victors and ensured themselves into a finals spot on the back of a 26-0 second half display.

Despite a 15 minute early mark due to a suspected AC joint injury, Ponga put in a man of the match performance in front of a sellout crowd, scoring one try, setting up another and running for 200 metres as the Knights extended their winning streak to eight straight games.

The Knights were forced into a reshuffle before kickoff with Hastings, Mann, and Fitzgibbon missing the fixture, with Adam Clune, Dylan Lucas, and Brodie Jones taking their places. For the Sharks, star halfback Nicho Hynes missed this clash, with his place being taken by Matt Moylan.

The Knights almost opened the scoring for the afternoon through Dominic Young, however the winger went into touch by mere millimeters; the Sharks would make them pay, coming down the field in the ensuing set and scoring through Connor Tracey, with Braydon Trindall pushing the lead to six points in what would prove to be their only points of the afternoon.

Ponga has been in sensational form this season and today was no different as the livewire scored his side’s first try of the afternoon, slicing through the Sharks’ right edge defence before converting his own try to level the scores.

Both sides would have their opportunities but fail to cross the stripe as some brilliant scrambling defensive efforts saw the sides head into the sheds locked up at 6-6.

It was more individual brilliance from Ponga that would set up the Knights second try of the match as the fullback streaked 70 metres upfield. With the Sharks on the back foot, Adam Clune found Bradman Best, who strolled over untouched before Ponga gave the home team the first lead of the afternoon.

Young may have been denied two tries in the first half but would not be denied a third time as the winger latched onto a long ball from Tyson Gamble to score in the corner. Ponga would make no mistake and extended the lead out to 12 points.

Tackle-busting machine Greg Marzhew was the next to get in on the action, with the winger charging back against the grain to score – shedding off three defenders to extend the lead out to 20 points.

Dylan Lucas would cap off the display with his first try in the NRL as the backrower turned centre showed off his footwork and speed on his way to the line.

Ponga will be sent for scans on his AC joint following a heavy collision with Jesse Ramien as the only injury concerns to come out of this clash.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Kalyn Ponga (Knights)
2 – Dane Gagai (Knights)
1 – Connor Tracey (Sharks)

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