The Newcastle Knights were beaten 62-0 by the Cronulla Sharks at Hunter Stadium in Indigenous Round.
With several late changes brought about by injuries to the likes of Trent Hodkinson, Sam Mataora and 2016 top try-scorer Nathan Ross, the red and blues went into the game with an average age of 23.
The inexperience showed in the end, with a strong Sharks side dominating all over the field.
The Knights had two early opportunities as they looked fired up in front of a home crowd, Dane Gagai getting pulled up just short of the line in the third minute and then Akuila Uate springing skyward to batt back a kick for Sione Mata’utia, who lost possession when it looked as though he could make a break for it.
Despite all this attacking groundwork it was the Sharks who got first points in the eighth minute, winger Valentine Holmes just managing to ground a long range grubber.
Ten minutes later the Sharks were over again, halfback Chad Townsend breaking the Knights’ defence and then placing a chip for fullback Ben Barba to race through and score. Maloney was on target with his second conversion to make the score 10-0.
Soon after the Sharks got their third and Holmes recorded his second, the winger bursting through the middle to score beneath the uprights. It was a hat-trick in the 23rd minute for Holmes, Maloney converting from the sideline to make the score 22-0.
It was Sosaia Feki that scored next, the winger still managing to get the ball down in the corner despite some close attention from Uate and Sione Mata’utia.
Holmes made it four on his personal tally seven minutes into the second half when he finished off a break started by Barba.
Luke Lewis got the Sharks to 40 points soon after when he beat the Knights’ defence to a Maloney bomb, and then five minutes later Feki beat Uate to get his second and push the score to 44-0.
Lewis got his double in the 65th minute, fellow back rower Wade Graham scored in the 70th and Feki made it 62-0 soon after.
Newcastle Knights 0
Cronulla Sharks 62 (T: Holmes 4, Feki 3, Lewis 2, Barber, Graham; G: Maloney 9/11)