Combinations were tested and young talent Star Toa took his chance to impress, but the nib Newcastle Knights just didn’t have the firepower to overcome a polished Cronulla Sharks outfit, defeated 30-6 in their second trial at Maitland.
It was an intense start from both sides… the ball travelled from end to end, but the Sharks pounced first, as Josh Dugan exposed the Knights on the right side.
The centre slipped through a gap to score the first points. Shaun Johnson made an easy kick to see the visitors take the early lead, 6-0.
The Sharks dialled up their possession which put the Knights defence into overdrive, but hard work from the red and blue kept Cronulla at bay.
Despite chances to penetrate, Newcastle couldn’t capitalise, and it was the Sharks who took advantage of some scrappy play, which saw Josh Morris dive on a loose ball to add another four-pointer.
Johnson was pinpoint on the kick for a 12-0 lead to the Sharks after 27 minutes.
Two minutes before the break, Sharks big man Andrew Fifita barged his way through to score near the uprights. Johnson added the extras as the Knights were left scoreless by halftime, 18-0.
In the second, an optimistic kick by Edrick Lee 20 metres out wide didn’t quite pull off, while down the other end things kept running smoothly before Sharks winger Sosaia Feki performed a leaping try.
24 unanswered points from the Sharks with 29 minutes on the clock.
Minutes later another easy lay down by the visitors. Chad Townsend made no mistake as he sprinted to the line. Johnson added the extras to extend to a 30-0 lead.
Finally, in the 58th minute a breakthrough from the Knights. From the bench a young Star Toa took advantage of space out wide to dodge his way to the line. A Kalyn Ponga conversion saw the Knights trail 30-6.
But that was the end of the scoring, as the Sharks went into the final siren with a 30-6 victory.
Knights 6 (Toa G: Ponga 1/1)