Courageous Knights down Sharks 24-12 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Courageous Knights down Sharks 24-12

By David Beniuk 24/03/2009 06:54:46 AM Comments (0)

Newcastle lost star playmaker Jarrod Mullen and two more players to injury, but courageously grabbed a 24-12 victory in the NRL clash with Cronulla at Toyota Stadium on Monday night.

Former NSW State of Origin half Mullen had struggled with what appeared to be a hip injury from the 15th minute and eventually succumbed in the 23rd.

The Knights needed to play the final quarter of the match with just one man on the bench after interchange forward Cameron Ciraldo was stretchered off with a serious leg injury.

Representative forward Steve Simpson had lasted just 15 minutes in the first half before hurting his hamstring.

In Mullen's absence, late call-up Scott Dureau stepped up, scoring one try, setting up another and booting a timely 40-20.

The Knights scored four tries to two to open their 2009 account in front of 11,148 fans.

Cronulla were without injured stars Ben Ross and Brett Kearney, as well as suspended halfback Brett Seymour who took the unusual step of publicly apologising for a drunken night out before kick-off.

On the plus side for the Sharks, sacked Bulldog Reni Maitua made his first appearance off the bench after recovering from an ankle injury suffered during the pre-season trials.

The Knights led 12-6 at halftime and extended that lead four minutes after the break - after they were piggy-backed downfield by two penalties for grapple tackles - when interchange forward Chris Houston dived over from dummy half.

They went ahead 24-6 when Dureau laid on a four-pointer for Richie Fa'aoso with a deft short pass in the 47th minute.

The Sharks got it back to two converted tries' difference when halfback Blake Green threw more dummies than a sleep deprived baby and scooted over in the 50th minute.

When Ciraldo was carried off in the 60th minute after a sickening collision, they turned on an inspired defensive display and clung on.

The Sharks had been denied twice by video referee Phil Cooley in the first half after five-eighth Trent Barrett had given them an early lead by grabbing his own bomb and touching down under the posts.

Dureau finished a 75m movement to score the Knights' first try before a miraculous ball from centre Junior Sau, who was being thrown into touch in goal by three defenders, allowed Cory Paterson to score their second.

Mullen is likely to miss 2-3 weeks with a rib injury, while Simpson could be sidelined for a month.

Ciraldo suffered a bad dislocation and was taken to hospital.

Newcastle coach Brian Smith, though, was focusing on the positives, rating it the best win since he'd been at the club.

"The way the cards came out in the deal it was us that had the adversity within the game," he said after Cronulla's disrupted week following Seymour's two-match ban.

"It was a tremendous, blue collar, hard working, just keep going (win)."

Smith revealed Dureau had been sent to Shark Park last week to do the Knights' homework on Cronulla.

"He came up with the plan," Smith said.

"They tend to respond better when they're hearing it from each other than when they're hearing it from a cranky old coach all the time."

Sharks coach Ricky Stuart said the "disjointed" week was no excuse, but he also took issue with the penalties for grappling.

"We can't be over-anxious on this grapple tackle, let's be realistic about it, we're playing a contact sport," he said.

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