Knights escape with win over Sharks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights escape with win over Sharks

By Ben Horne 17/04/2011 06:02:14 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle overcame a week of coaching distractions and a late Cronulla fightback to escape with a 24-20 NRL win over the Sharks at Ausgrid Stadium on Sunday.

During the week Rick Stone discovered he wouldn't be the head coach next season but his players showed they hadn't lost focus and hung in long enough to snap a worrying three-match losing streak.

The close finish wasn't without controversy, Sharks fullback Nathan Gardner claimed he was taken out by Knights forward Steve Southern as he attempted a chip and chase with just three minutes left on the clock.

Thirty metres out from the Knights line, the lightning fast No.1 kicked into open space, but was sent crashing to the turf.

Newcastle cleaned the ball up and the whistle didn't blow.

"I thought he got me late but you've just got to cop those decisions, they're in charge so you can't really argue with them," Gardner said of the referees.

"Would have been good to get another set especially with a minute to go and four points down, we would have backed ourselves to get some points there but it wasn't to be."

Southern, making his first appearance for the Knights, had an eventful afternoon, also being put on report for a lifting tackle on the same man.

The former North Queensland Cowboy claimed innocence on the Gardner kick-through.

"I don't know, I just remember when he kicked it I just turned ... it's hard to stop. He hurt me more than I hurt him I think!," said Southern, who hoped his clean record would keep him from suspension for the dangerous dump, which left the tiny Shark with a nasty headache.

"No intent to it, don't even know how I got in between his legs, I didn't really touch him."

Some clever work from Anthony Tupou in laying on a try for Ben Pomeroy, and Albert Kelly setting up Gardner for the first of two tries, gave the Sharks an early 10-6 lead.

They looked set to add to that until Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen scooped up a grubber kick on his own line and raced 80 metres.

Mullen's play was the turning point, as James McManus, Shannon McDonnell and Junior Sa'u crossed either side of halftime to put Newcastle in control.

However, the Knights suffered a momentum swing of their own with just over a quarter of the match remaining, when they failed to field a Sharks drop out which found touch.

Gardner was everywhere, as he set up John Williams for a try and scurried over to complete his double, as the Sharks came roaring back.

Stone was relieved to get the win after a stressful week.

"It was important for our club today absolutely, we had 11 fulltime players out, we had a bit of disruption obviously with the new coach announcement," he said.

"I think a lot of players were waiting to see how our players were going to react. I was confident ... I thought they reacted in the right fashion."

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan refused to blame the referee for not penalising Southern.

"We only defended in patches, we attacked in patches," said Flanagan of Cronulla's third-straight loss.

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