The NYC Newcastle Knights have fought their way into finals footy after they defeated the Cronulla Sharks 36-24 on a warm Sunday afternoon at McDonald Jones Stadium.
It was an even affair in the first half as the sides went try for try to go into half time at 12-all before a back-end surge in the second stanza stunned the minor premiers and took the Knights to a well-earned win.
Cronulla halfback Kyle Flanagan got close to the try line and went himself just three minutes in. He converted his own try for the Sharks to lead 6-0.
In the 8th minute, the red and blues scored on the left edge via Cory Denniss. Kurtis Dark booted the conversion to level the score line, 6-all.
It was tit for tat as the Sharks’ Luke Metcalf put down the visitors second in the 18th minute to regain the lead, 12-6.
A minute before the half time siren, Luke Huth crashed through to record the Knights' second. Dark had no trouble adding the extras to head into the break locked up, 12-all.
In the second half, a try was saved by the Knights as they held it up over the line but the visitors returned fire as Eddie Faalua crashed over for the Sharks to once again take the lead, 18-12.
The Sharks lost fullback Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga as he was stretchered from the field before Knights halfback Hayden Loughrey broke free and dished it off to Matt Cooper who had the legs to finish with the try. Again, it was locked up, 18-all.
In the 61st minute, Loughrey snatched a high kick to proceed to the try line. Dark nailed the conversion for the Knights to take the lead for the first time, 24-18, but the visitors quickly replied with a try from Josh Carr to make it 24-all.
Big Eddy Tuilotolava crashed over from dummy-half in the 71st minute before the double from Copper, who sprinted to the line. Dark on fire with six from six at the tee to stretch the Knights lead, 36-24, and take them to victory and into finals footy.
Newcastle Knights 36 (T: Denniss, Huth, Cooper 2, Loughrey, Tuilotolava, G: Dark 6/6)
Cronulla Sharks 24 (T: Flanagan, Metcalf, Faalua, Carr, G: Flanagan 4/4)
1. Matt Cooper, 2. Mitch Andrews, 3. Cory Denniss, 4. Heath Gibbs, 5. Kainoa Gudgeon, 6. Jack Johns, 7. Hayden Loughrey, 8. Eddy Tuilotolava, 9. Nash Birch, 10. Matt Croker, 11. Kurtis Dark, 12. Sam McIntyre, 13. Zac Hosking. Interchange: 14. Luke Huth, 15. Henry Penn, 18. Brayden Musgrove, 20. Jayden Butterfield.
16.Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, 2. Sione Katoa, 3. Isaac Lumelume, 23. Clayton Uia, 5. Josh Tuilagi, 6. Luke Metcalf, 7. Kyle Flanagan, 8. Ryan King, 9. Blayke Brailey, 10. Daniel Vasquez, 11. Briton Nikora, 19. Teig Wilton, 13. Billy Magoulias. Interchange. 12. Joshua Carr, 14. Eddie Faalua, 17. James Roumanos, 21. Luke Jurd.