The NYC Newcastle Knights suffered a 32-22 loss to the Cronulla Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday morning.
A brace by fullback Matt Cooper saw the Knights stay in contention in the first half but the red and blue were playing catch up for the rest of the match.
The Knights kicked off the scoring account with Jack Johns off-loading to fullback Cooper on the right side to cross for the first try.
14 minutes in, the Sharks drew level as winger Sione Katoa hugged the sideline for a try out wide. Kyle Flanagan converted for Cronulla to lead 6-4.
A penalty gave the home side the ball 10 metres from the line before a second try for Katoa, again finding space on the right edge.
Just under 10 minutes before the break, Knights’ second rower Sam McIntyre did the leg work to get out front before opting to dish it to speedster Cooper to finish it off. The Knights trailed the Sharks by two.
But Cronulla centre Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga was able to sneak one in before halftime to lead the Knights 16-10.
After the break, it was the home side who made the first few moves, Eddie Faalua and Briton Nikora adding another two to stretch the lead to 24-10.
In the 51st minute, Knights forward Cameron King crossed the line, backed up by a conversion from Johns to get within eight.
Sharks’ William Kennedy barrelled through the Knights defence to add four more before return of fire from Nash Birch as he edged the Knights closer. Cronulla led 30-22 late in the match.
A 40/20 by Johns added some spark to the under 20s side but it wasn’t enough, Cronulla kicking a penalty goal right on the buzzer, to defeat the Knights 32-22.
Newcastle Knights: 22 ( T: Cooper 2, King, Birch, G: Johns 3/4)
Cronulla Sharks: 30 (T: Katoa 2, Aufaga-Toomaga, Faalua, Nikora, Kennedy, G: Flanagan 3/6, P: 1)
1. Matt Cooper, 2. Mitch Andrews, 3. Brayden Musgrove, 4. Heath Gibbs, 19. Lachlan Farr, 6. Jack Johns, 7. Hayden Loughrey, 8. Cameron King, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Viko Puliuvea, 11. Dylan Clark, 12. Sam McIntyre, 13. Zac Hosking. Interchange: 14. Nash Birch, 15. Will Davies, 16. Jayden Butterfield, 17. Pasami Saulo.
1. William Kennedy, 2. Sione Katoa, 3. Clayton Uia, 4. Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, 5. Johnathan Tufuga, 6. Jack Williams, 7. Kyle Flanagan, 8. Daniel Vasquez, 9. Blayke Brailey, 10. Brock Ilett, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Ryan King, 13. Billy Magoulias. Interchange: 14. Zachary Faulkner, 15. Eddie Faalua, 16. Tony Matautia, 17. Joshua Carr.