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"Photo: Paul Barkley / Melba Studios "

An unstoppable Newcastle Knights NSW Cup side earned a comprehensive 56-12 victory over the Cronulla Sharks at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Josh Mantellato shone on the wing, scoring four tries, a personal best at the Knights and delivering his ever-consistent goal kicking. He was supported well by Matt Minto and Michael Dobson.

The Knights made the most of every chance in the first half, piling on the points and dominating possession with the majority of the ball held in the Knights.

Early possession saw the Knights attacking plays pay off with a try in the corner by winger Brayden Williame in just the second minute.

Josh Mantellato added the extras to deliver the Knights an early 6-0 lead.

Quick hands from Michael Dobson to Matt Minto and a short ball inside to Tyler Randell took him over the line in the 7th minute to bring the Knight advantage to 10-0.

Another strong run from Randell saw him break through Cronulla’s defence and advance 20 metres. However, a following loose pass saw the ball make into the hands of Cronulla’s Travis Robinson who sprinted 80 metres to score after 10 minutes of play. 

A successful conversion from Daniel Holdsworth’s narrowed the Knights’ lead to 12-6.

A creative play between Tahu and centre James Elias payed off seeing Elias bust through the Sharks defence to make 20 metres before sliding over the line in the 15th minute. Knights’ lead was extended to 16-6, with Mantellato missing the kick from the sideline.

A set play in the middle of the field saw the ball effortlessly make its way from Dobson to Matt Minto onto Nathan Ross, who squeezed past the Cronulla backs to score next to the uprights.

Mantellato nailed the kick to extend the lead to 22-6.

Shortly after, Mantellato was in the spotlight again, grounding the ball in the back of the in-goal area off a perfectly placed grubber kick from Dobson in the 20th minute.

Unable to convert his try, the Knights led 26-6.

The ensuing play saw the first real time the Knights were forced to defend after a Knights error 10 metres out from the line in the 30th minute with the red and blue managing to hold Cronulla out. 

The Knights went into the half time break with a 26-6 advantage.

The second half told the same story as the first with the Knights barely venturing out of its half in attack.

Mantellato was in for second try in the 50th minute after flying over the line to ground the ball mid-air off an Elias ball. Michael Dobson took over the kicking duties, nailing it from the sideline and the Knights led 32-6.

The Knights maintained their fierce assault, failing to give Cronulla room to counteract their opposition’s plays.

Mantellato snatched a hat-trick after sliding over on the corner off a ball from Matt Minto in the 60th minute. Dobson added the extras to stretch the Knights lead to 38-6.

The Knights were again to capitalise after Cronulla was penalised for a lifting tackle.

Mantellato sailed over for his fourth try of the match off a Minto ball, with the conversion taking the Knights lead to 44-6.

Cronulla bit back shortly after with a try from Nathan Gardner to reduce the Knights lead 44-12. 

Randell made a swift break down the sideline before angling a kick that saw Dobson ground the ball between the posts.

With three minutes remaining, the Knights were in again when a Mantellato offload placed Elias over the line for his second try of the match.

Dobson nailed the kick from the sideline to close out the strong victory as 56-12. 


Newcastle Knights 56 (T: Mantellato 4, EIias 2, Wiliame, Randell, Ross, Dobson, G: Mantellato 4/6, Dobson 4/4)
Cronulla Sharks 12 (T: Robinson, Gardner, G: Holdsworth 2/2)


Ross, Mantellato, Elias, Tahu, Wiliame, Minto, Dobson, Mata'ora, Redman, Vaivai, Newton, Randell, Hilder. Bench: Horwood, Steele, Siulepa, Likiliki.