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Plucky Tarsha Gale Knights lose out in grand final

It was their inaugural year in the competition and an incredible achievement for the girls to progress to the grand final, however the nib Newcastle Knights Tarsha Gale team were defeated by the Cronulla Sharks 36-22 at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday afternoon.

The Sharks started with high intensity and maintained consistent pressure on the Knights' line in the first quarter, however a strong defensive display from the Knights kept the Sharks scoreless.

A clever read from the Sharks halves in the 13th minute saw an overlap on the right edge, with the Knights' defence sliding infield to take out the running half.

A quick pass from Madison Higgins-Ashby saw Faith Nathan open the scoring just in from the sideline, however the try conversion was unsuccessful. The Sharks led the Knights 4-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Knights came out strong in the second quarter, rattling the Sharks with a series of strong tackles.

However, the Sharks went end-to-end in the 20th minute, with the Sharks halves swinging the ball from right to left and drawing out the Knights' edge defence. Jaida White scored the second try for the Sharks, however Quincy Dodd missed the conversion and led the Knights 8-0.

Higgins-Ashby looked dangerous on the Sharks right edge, sprinting towards the line with numbers outside of her, however they were not needed as she broke through the Knights edge in the 23rd minute to collect the Sharks' third try. The conversion was again unsuccessful, and the Sharks led 12-0.

The Sharks continued to look dangerous in their attack towards the end of the second quarter. A picture perfect cut out pass from Ashby to Zali Fay saw a 40 metre line break on the right edge and the Sharks took their fourth try just before the buzzer. The try once again went unconverted and the Sharks maintained a 16-point lead at half time.

The Sharks got the third quarter underway with a deep kick into the Knights' line and a series of big tackles saw a big loss for the Knights with impact player Johnston leave the field with injury.

Soon after the Knights swung the ball to right edge with winger Emily Harman sprinting down the right edge uncontested and scoring to the right of the posts for the Knights' first try. Skye Pullman converted the try, and the Knights trailed 16-6 in the 34th minute.

A strong tackle from Paki saw the Knights lose possession after a strong run off their line and the Sharks once again regained control of the ball on the Knights line. An overthrown pass to Sharks right edge saw the ball go over the sideline when they had numbers and looked sure to score.

In the 40th minute Nathan sprinted through a gap in the scrambled Knights defence to go the length of the field and add another four points for the Sharks. The try was converted and the Sharks led the Knights 22-6 towards the end of the third quarter.

A repeat set for the Knights in the 42nd minute saw Johnston shift play to the left and break through the Sharks' edge defence to score five metres in from the sideline. The try went unconverted one minute before the three quarter buzzer and the Knights trailed 22-10.

The Knights started strong in the final quarter, shifting the ball from right to left through the halves with Jasmin Strange having numbers on the left edge and crossing the line to the left of the posts in the 48th minute. The try was converted and the Knights brought the margin down to six, trailing 22-16 with nine minutes remaining in the game.

Just as the Knights seemed to be gaining the momentum, a line break saw the Sharks tear down the sideline before being held up over the line. Higgins-Ashby ran a sideline-to-sideline play and sent number four over the line to increase the margin for the Sharks. The try was once again unconverted and the Sharks led 26-16.

A quick inside ball in the 53rd minute saw Morris tear through the middle for a 30-metre line break before scoring under the posts. The try was converted and the Knights trailed 26-22 with just 7 minutes remaining

Shortly after, a quick shift in possession saw the Sharks regain control of the game and build pressure on the Knights line. Nathan found space on the left edge in the 55th minute to add another to her try tally. The try was converted and the Sharks increased their lead to 10 with just four minutes remaining.

Capping what was an already impressive attacking display by the Sharks, Lynda Howarth shut out the Knights with a 50-metre sprint down the sideline to score in the right corner seconds before the full time buzzer. The try was unconverted by Dodd, and the Sharks defeated the Knights 36-22.