Cronulla Sharks vs Newcastle Knights, live updates, video, SuperCoach scores, Nicho Hynes, Kalyn Ponga
The Sharks have won three in a row after beating the Knights 18-0 with a clinical performance in windy conditions.
Man of the moment Aiden Tolman celebrated his 300th NRL game with the first try of the night as the Sharks took the lead in the 26th minute.
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MATCH CENTRE: Sharks vs Knights live updates, video score
Cronulla extended their lead just at half-time as Sione Katoa landed a superb low kick into the corner.
Nicho Hynes attempted to convert but conditions made it difficult. Before lining up the kick, he turned to the sideline and said “is there any interest?” according to journalist Lara Pitt.
Knights enforcer Tyson Frizell was also celebrating a milestone – his 200th NRL game. However, his evening was cut short, leaving the pitch in the 54th minute with a hamstring injury.
Shortly after losing Frizell to injury, things took a turn for the worse for the Knights when winger Dominic Young was booked for lifting Ronaldo Mulitalo’s leg in a tackle.
The Sharks sealed the game with two more tries in the final 12 minutes.
Siosifa Talakai scored a well-deserved four after a break from Mulitalo, while the two combined again seven minutes later before a try from Will Kennedy.
3 GREAT BLOWS
GREAT STATEMENT OF SHARKS
The Sharks have sent out a statement to the rest of the competition – they are the real deal.
There was a big question mark over Cronulla ahead of the season given that Craig Fitzgibbon was at the helm for his first campaign as NRL head coach.
But three consecutive weeks of good football set them up for a great year.
While Fitzgibbon brought great defensive spirit to the Shire, it was the Sharks’ attacking talent that was most impressive against the Knights.
Besides veteran prop Aiden Tolman crashing out for the first down, the rest of their points came from clinical prep play.
Sione Katoa scored with a low kick that was dubbed ‘exceptional’ by league legend Gorden Tallis after the Sharks quickly spread the ball to their right edge.
On the other side of the field, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Siosifa Talakai also shared. Mulitalo took a break and set up his substitute center for a four-pointer.
Shortly after, Matt Moylan threw a nice cut ball to Talakai who made a quick catch and pass to Mulitalo, who then put in a grubber for Will Kennedy to score.
“I can’t believe how fluid the Sharks offense is,” Fox League analyst Greg Alexander said.
“For a team that has a new backbone, a lot of new players and a lot of new moving parts…they are continually putting pressure on that Newcastle defence.”
The Sharks have now won three in a row – including a stunning two-point win over heavyweight Eels in the second round.
Steve Roach said he expected the Sharks to “get better and better as the season progressed”, while commentator Andrew Voss declared them a Finals team.
“It’s a good football team my friends, a very good football team,” he said.
“This Sharks team football three weeks in a row…they look very much like a finals team.”
BEAST UTILITY EMERGES AS SHARKS’ X-FACTOR
If there was anyone who deserved a four point, it was Siosifa Talakai.
The 24-year-old second rower filled in at center while Connor Tracey was sidelined and had an absolute field day against the Knights.
He threatened every time he had the ball and looked like he crossed early for a brilliant try only to be denied.
Either way, he had warned the Knights.
“Talakai is virtually unstoppable,” said Steve Roach.
“I don’t know where you’re attacking this guy. It’s powerful, low to the ground, if you go too hard you’ll bounce back so I think legs might be the answer. He’s giving Gagai a little bath here tonight.
Talakai finally got his try in the 68th minute.
“The earth is shaking, it’s not an earthquake, it’s Talakai for the Sharks. Rumbling, rocking and rolling to score,” said commentator Andrew Voss.
“He’s got it all… right next to what he’s shown us over the past few weeks. He’s an x-factor for this Cronulla team.
“You can’t leave him out of the 17 now. Tonight he’s playing center and he’s having one of the best games of any center I’ve seen this year.
He finished the night with 200 yards, 11 jump tackles, a line jump, a line jump assist and two offloads to go along with his try.
KNIGHTS BIG RIFLES STUCK IN GARAGE
Newcastle emerged as the competition’s surprise package in the opening three rounds. But they fell flat against the Sharks – despite superstar full-back Kalyn Ponga returning to the deck.
It wasn’t like the Knights even played badly, they were just outplayed by a Sharks outfit on the song.
Fox League commentator Andrew Voss, however, questioned the lack of involvement from firearms center Bradman Best, while pointing to Ponga’s awkward return.
“I still feel like I learned positive things about Newcastle,” he said.
“There is character in this team, but I feel like they underestimated some of their striking weapons tonight.
“Bradman Best is the size of Talakai but barely saw the ball.
“They’re just out of sync. I know it’s only (Ponga’s) second game of the season, but he didn’t play tonight.
Ponga’s game came down to the last game of the evening when he tossed a dummy and was packed fast on the buzzer.
“It’s Kalyn Ponga night… not much happened around Kalyn Ponga,” Voss said.
“But that’s not the reason for the loss, they were beaten by a good football team tonight who played very well.”
BONUS HIT: TOLMAN CELEBRATES ITS 300TH GAME WITH A RARE TRIAL
Aiden Tolman continued his NRL career without issue, but the veteran stalwart was rightly unhappy when he scored in his 300th game.
Tolman played 53 games with the Storm and 222 with the Bulldogs before signing with the Sharks last season. He played in three Grand Finals – one for the Storm in 2009 and two for the Bulldogs in 2012 and 2014.
He was never known as a try scorer or dangerous with the ball in hand for that matter. Instead, the 33-year-old has built a reputation for reliability in defense and achieving the ‘one percent’ that goes unnoticed by most.
So when Tolman scored, naturally the Fox League commentary box erupted.
“Can you believe it? Miracles happen. Dreams come true,” said Andrew Voss.
“What are the odds? It’s a moment.
Steve Roach, who admitted to getting up from his seat, said: “You couldn’t write that, could you…what a try.”
Retired NRL icon Benji Marshall applauded Tolman’s efforts.
“Tolman enters his 300th game, high expectations, scoring in his 300th game. It was just a desperate barge to the try line and he flipped it straight,” he said.
The Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Aiden Tolman 15. Cameron McInnes 16. Braydon Trindall 17. Andrew Fifita Substitute player: 18. Luke Metcalf
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 16. Leo Thompson 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Kurt Mann 8. Jacob Saifiti 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jirah Momoisea 17. Sauaso Sue Substitute player: 18. Simi Sasagi
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