Classic Clashes: Knights v Sharks
This week we set our clocks back four years, when the nib Newcastle Knights defeated the Cronulla Sharks 31-18 at Shark Park in Round 18, 2014.
The Knights had added motivation to carve up a historical win over the Sharks that day, as then coach Wayne Bennett celebrated his milestone 700th game as a first grade coach in the NRL.
It was however a rough start for the Knights, as they fell victim to the raw power of a determined Sharks squad.
An impressive display from Cronulla's spine saw Jeff Robson and Michael Gordon claim their slice of the pie, and a precision ball to the left saw winger Sosaia Feki cross the line before half time to see a 18-6 score line.
Newcastle rallied in the sheds at the break, and then took control as soon as boot touched grass in the second half to completely shift any momentum the Sharks were clinging to from the first 40 minutes.
Averaging nearly a point a minute in the back 40, the Knights took charge in the 52nd minute through Jarrod Mullen, who recognised their numbers on the right edge and put a chip kick towards the sideline off the left boot.
Much to the disadvantage of the Sharks defence, the ball bounced back in-field for Akuila Uate to slot it under the posts, before Kurt Gidley converted the try and the Knights closed the gap to 18-12 with 26 minutes remaining.
Two minutes later, the Knights were back on the Sharks line, looking promising after a 44-metre gain throughout the set and two metres short of the line on the last tackle.
A short ball out of dummy-half from Tyrone Roberts put Gidley onto the line, as he broke through Tinirau Arona and Andrew Fifita to score under the sticks. Gidley then converted his own try, and the score was tied with 20 minutes remaining.
The red and blues once again found themselves on the Sharks line in the 62nd minute, this time Gidley drew Fifita off the line, and opened a gap for Beau Scott to trample over Ricky Leutele and score to the right of the posts. Gidley maintained his perfect kick percentage, and the Knights took the lead 24-18 with 15 minutes remaining.
A line break from David Fa'alogo inside the Knights half saw Newcastle reel in the reins in the 67th minute, before the ball was passed infield for Mullen to sprint the remaining 40 metres uncontested and score. Gidley nailed the conversion, and it was the Knights 30-18 with 10 minutes before the final siren.
The Sharks looked to level up the score, as they forced a number of repeat sets and a drop-out, but they couldn't capitalise and remained scoreless in the second stanza.
It was in the dying minutes of the match that Mullen slotted a drop goal over the dot from 20 out to further solidify the win against the Sharks, with a quick throw to the left from Adam Clydesdale in dummy half to put Mullen in the prime position to nail the goal.