Sharks tune up for finals with win over Knights

Paul Gallen of the Sharks is tackled by the Knights defence.
Paul Gallen of the Sharks is tackled by the Knights defence. Ashley Feder

CRONULLA has sealed a home qualifying final with a 26-18 win over a gallant Newcastle outfit on Sunday.

In front of a bumper 20,535 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium on Old Boys' Day, the Sharks raced out to an 18-0 lead before the Knights wrestled their way back into the contest.

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen was inspirational, churning out a whopping 272m from 26 runs, along with one try assist, 26 tackles, seven offloads and five tackle busts.

By the 55th minute, the workhorse lock had already passed the 200m mark and was filthy when a trainer called him from the field for a short rest midway through the second half.

While the Sharks remain in fifth on the ladder, the result also meant the Knights were resigned to their third-straight wooden spoon.

The Sharks had a golden chance after just two minutes after a linebreak down the left touchline, but the ball was put down by Holmes after a poor pass from Leutele.

Holmes converted his next chance just moments later with a barge-over effort from dummy half.

The visitors had their second of the day in the 16th minute when Chad Townsend fooled the Knights defence and beat three defenders to the line.

The Sharks continued to carve up the Knights defence and Matt Prior found himself streaking away in the 20th minute before putting Jayden Brailey over under the posts.

But the home side showed plenty of resolve and wrestled its way back into the contest in the final 10 minutes of the first half. It was rewarded when debutant forward Tyrone Amey put Lachlan Fitzgibbon over under the posts in the 32nd minute.

Five minutes later, Gerard Beale put down a bomb and Fitzgibbon soon grabbed his second to make the scoreline 18-12 heading into half-time.

After the break, the Knights lost Fitzgibbon for a chunk of the second half to a compound dislocation of the finger.

The Sharks kicked themselves ahead with a penalty goal in the 45th minute before Gallen produced a lovely offload for rookie Jesse Ramien who showed great footwork to score on debut.

But the Knights wouldn't go away, and with 20 minutes remaining, they reduced the margin to eight with a dive over from crafty hooker Danny Levi.

The final part of the game was error-riddled from both sides with neither able to change the scoreline.

Topics:  cronulla sharks newcastle knights

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