The Knights couldn’t take a trick injury wise, losing veteran Steve Simpson to a hamstring injury after only minutes and shortly after – halfback Jarrod Mullen was helped from the field with a rib complaint.
But worse injuries were to come for Newcastle, with bench forward Cameron Ciraldo suffering a horrific ankle injury – his foot turned at right angles and he was immediately help from the field, heading straight to hospital.
With stand-in halfback Scott Dureau calling the shots – the Newcastle side still remained a potent attacking machine, the rookie no.7 scoring one try, laying on another and snaring a pinpoint 40-20.
In front of a disappointing crowd of only 11,000 at Shark Park, the Cronulla side could have used much more local support as their often faltering attack – spluttered once more. The Sharks had 44 touches of the football inside the Newcastle 20m line but couldn’t come up with much more than a a single 4 pointer.
The missing Ben Ross and Brett Kearney certainly hindered the Sharks, and the dramas surrounding Brett Seymour certainly would not have helped. While stand-in half Blake Green did an admirably job – his combination with Barrett was limited. Playing a lone hand, Barrett tried valliantly to get his team going, but ultimately he had no assistance.
The Sharks forwards were buckled back and there was no platform for their playmakers to work from.
While new buy Reni Maitua got his first game as a Shark, his involvement wasn’t high and it was probably a case of testing the waters as the former Dog came back from a long layoff.
The Knights led 12-6 at the break and skipped away soon after the resumption – getting gifted 2 penalties for grapples which would have had coach Ricky Stuart absolutely fuming.
The try to Chris Houston was a controversial one. Houston certainly having a good game, the talented backrower burrowing over the try line from short range and celebrating immediately what looked like a 50/50 try.
But the sell job worked, referee Bernard Suttor awarding the try without checking the video replay. With reviews suggesting Houston may not have grounded the ball, a Sharks arm clearly seen underneath.
The refusal to use the video replay was surprising given that struggling referee Ben Cummins was the second official in this game. Cummins surprisingly getting his second game of the Round after having a howler on Friday night.
Cummins refusing to use the video when Brisbane scored from a blatant knock-on. After such an error, some may have felt Cummins would ‘tip’ Suttor to use the review – something he probably wishes he did on Friday night.
Fortunately for the Sharks it didn’t play a big part, with Scott Dureau setting up another touchdown for Richie Fa’aoso, this time with a crisp short ball soon after the Houston try. Knights soaring away 24-6.
The Sharks had their chance to rebuild, getting a quick reply when half-back Blake Green sold a hand-full of dummies on his way to the line only 3 minutes later.
When Ciraldo was stretchered off after his horry injury only 10 minutes later,Newcastle turned on an admirable display to hold on for the win. With 1 reserve remaining, they gritted their teeth and flexed their defensive muscle to hold the Sharks out.
The Sharks had been knocked back on two occasions by video official Phil Cooley in the first half after pivot Trent Barrett had got them off to a good start – getting a try off his own bomb.
But other than the skill and creative work by Barrett, the Sharks otherwise looked predictable in attack. Blake Green showed some flashes of spark, but for the most part it was only Barrett who looked to give his team anything points wise.
Brian Smith was unusually emotional as he watched his team ensure long periods of defence. The usually ‘poker faced’ coach was extremely animated as the Fox Sports cameras panned to the coaching booth.
Coach Smith confirming he had sent Scott Dureau to watch the Sharks game last week when his own side travelled to the Gold Coast. While Ben Rogers was given the nod last week, Dureau was busy formulating a game plan as he watched the Sharks.