The NYC Newcastle Knights were beaten 24-18 by the Cronulla Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
While both teams sat on 18 points apiece for the majority of the second half, in the end it was the Sharks that came up with the decisive play late on to grab the win.
It was a dream start to the match for the home side, Nick Meaney fumbling a bomb on his own line in the fifth minute for debutant Isaac Lumelume to score. Halfback Rhys Davies converted, and four minutes later the Sharks were over again via back rower Jesse Savage.
With the score at 10-0 the Knights got their first attacking opportunity several minutes later as the Sharks coughed up possession 20 metres from their own line. It was a scrappy series of events that saw the Knights score, Sam Stone’s offload falling to nobody and then Jack Cogger kicking the loose ball for Matthew Soper-Lawler to score his 11th try of the season.
With 20 minutes on the clock the Sharks got their third try on the back of a line drop-out, winger Sione Katoa finding plenty of space out on the right touchline to score. Davies missed his conversion to keep the score at 14-6, and the next points were scored by the Knights seven minutes later.
Sharks winger Lumelume dropped the ball 20 metres out from his own line and the Knights again took advantage, interchange prop Jordan Pinnock bulldozing his way over the line thanks to a clever short pass from Tom Starling.
It was a beautiful play from Cory Denniss that gave the Knights the lead six minutes before half time, the Under 20s Origin representative producing his trademark flick pass on the left edge for Soper-Lawler to grab his second. Braden Robson made it three conversions from three attempts out on the sideline to push the score to 18-14.
Just as everything looked as though it was going the way of the Knights, the home side struck back when Katoa grabbed is second on the right side. Davies missed his third conversion to keep the scores even at half time.
It was a tight start to the second period with plenty of feeling from both sides, and it wasn’t until the 55th minute that the first real opportunity came. Stone looked as though he could get over the line, but Cogger’s pass in the build-up was called offside to keep the game deadlocked.
With ten minutes left on the clock it looked as though Sharks fullback Will Kennedy could get over the line, until the referee called up a shepherd. There was no stopping the home side three minutes later though, as back rower Savage grabbed his second. Kyle Flanagan took over kicking duties to push the score to 24-18.
While the Knights came close to scoring soon after when Meaney chased down a Cogger grubber, Kennedy got there first to knock it out of play and give the Sharks a win.
Newcastle Knights 18 (T: Soper-Lawler 2, Pinnock. G: Robson 2/2)
Cronulla Sharks 24 (T: Lumelume, Savage 2, Katoa 2, G: Davies 1/4, Flanagan 1/1)
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Kainoa Gudgeon, 3. Cory Denniss, 4. Henry Penn, 5. Matthew Soper-Lawler, 6. Hayden Herbert, 7. Jack Cogger, 8. Jayden Butterfield, 9. Nick Newman, 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 11. Eddy Tuilotolava, 12. Sam Stone, 13. Braden Robson. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Heath Gibbs, 16. Cameron King, 20. Jordan Pinnock.