Knights and Sharks daring to dream - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights and Sharks daring to dream

By Ian McCullough 27/06/2010 07:40:40 PM Comments (0)

NRL wooden spoon favourites at the start of the year, Cronulla and Newcastle are daring to dream of finals football thanks to two tremendous away victories this weekend.

The Knights, whose pre-season preparations were ravaged by the arrests and subsequent sackings of Danny Wicks and Chris Houston following allegations of drug trafficking, have now won two games in a row for the first time this season, to move on to 14 points.

And although the Knights are still sitting in 11th spot, they are now just four points off the eighth-placed Sydney Roosters.

Knights coach Rick Stone admitted his side face a tall order to qualify for the finals for a second successive season, but said his side are finally showing improvements following a poor start to the year.

"We probably need to win six more games and that is a big ask, but we have shown the belief, desire and mental toughness to build on for our next game against the Sharks after our bye next week," Stone said.

"They spent a lot of time in our half and they are not as potent with Scott Prince out but our desire to win shone through."

In comparison, the Titans are struggling to find their best form after a brilliant start to the season gave credibility to the belief of many that they were genuine contenders for the minor premiership crown.

Their brilliant home form underpinned their top-four finish last year, but this season they have already lost at home three times and coach John Cartwright cut a frustrated figure after the defeat to the Knights.

"Particularly in the first half the standards were way down on what they set themselves, there were some soft decisions made in defence," Cartwright said.

"We invited them back into the game, we should have been much more harder on ourselves.

"If we won today it would have put us into the top two or three. We let ourselves down."

Cronulla have managed to win three of their last five games and produced their best-ever comeback on Saturday against North Queensland to recover from 18-0 down before winning 20-19 in extra time in Townsville.

Like the Knights, the Sharks require a massive effort to make the finals for the first time since 2008 but with their next four matches against fellow strugglers Canterbury, Newcastle, Manly and Canberra, the in-form Sharks will be confident of a strong push for a top eight spot.

The Warriors also kept alive their flickering finals aspirations with a gritty 20-18 last-gasp win over Sydney Roosters at rainswept Christchurch on Sunday.

A Kevin Locke hat-trick, that included a brilliant solo effort that left him in hospital with a hip injury after colliding with the post, sealed the points much to the delight of coach Ivan Cleary, who was full of praise for the 21-year-old.

"He certainly only had eyes for the try," coach Ivan Cleary said on ABC radio.

"It was just set up as one of those moments, the last play in the game, goal post in the way but he managed to get to the football and you've got to love when a player plays like that."

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