The NYC Newcastle Knights beat the Cronulla Sharks 30-10 at Hunter Stadium on Sunday morning to leap into fifth place on the ladder.
The young red and blues put in a convincing performance despite missing regular halves Brock Lamb and Jack Cogger, interchange forward Jayden Butterfield playing a blinder of a match with two tries and Jake McNamara controlling the tempo of the game from five-eighth.
There was a frenetic start to the game with plenty of action at both ends, but it wasn’t until 20 minutes in that first points were scored.
It was McNamara that got the try, the fill-in five-eighth the quickest to react to a bobbling grubber beneath the uprights. McNamara converted his own try, and five minutes later halves partner Hayden Herbert put up a bomb on the right edge for winger Dean Kouka-Smith to score.
Eight minutes before half time the Knights looked as though they could get their third when fullback Nick Meaney skipped out of a tackle near the line, but his offload to Kainoa Gudgeon hit the turf, and the Sharks escaped.
Four minutes later the Sharks were attacking with impetus, and centre Lachlan Stein looked certain to cross over on the right. Gudgeon and Matt Soper-Lawler combined well to carry him out of play though, and soon after Butterfield crossed over for the Knights to make the half time score 16-0.
Ten minutes into the second half the Sharks got their first try, fullback Will Kennedy beating the defence to dive over on the left. Centre Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga couldn’t convert from the sideline, but four minutes later his side was over again on the right edge.
With the score at 16-10 the Knights were looking a little nervy, until Butterfield scooped up a loose pass from the Sharks to show pace a winger would be envious of and dash 60 metres to score.
Five minutes later the Knights continued their attacking impetus, back rower Sam Stone latching onto a short pass to cruise over the line.
The Sharks continued to fight for more points, but with four minutes left on the clock Kouka-Smith got his brace when he scored an acrobatic try in the right corner. McNamara’s attempted sideline conversion sailed wide, the final score 30-10.
Knights 26 (T: McNamara, Kouka-Smith 2, Butterfield 2, Stone. G: McNamara 3/6)
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Dean Kouka-Smith, 3. Heath Gibbs, 4. Kainoa Gudgeon, 5. Matt Soper-Lawler, 6. Jake McNamara, 19. Hayden Herbert, 8. Tyrone Amey, 9. Nick Newman, 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 11. Eddy Tuilotolava, 12. Sam Stone, 13. Braden Robson. Interchange: 14. Zac Hosking, 15. Tom Starling, 16. Pasami Saulo, 17. Jayden Butterfield.
1. Will Kennedy, 2. Sione Katoa, 19. Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, 4. Lachlan Stein, 5. Josh Tuilagi, 6. Jack Williams, 7. Rhys Davies, 8. Tepa Fuiavailili, 9. Jayden Railey, 10. Jaimin Jolliffe, 11. Jesse Savage, 12. Ash Nisbet, 13. Jayden McDonogh. Interchange: 14. Daniel Vasquez, 15. Brock Ilett, 16. Zac Faulkner, 17. Billy Magoulias.