A James Maloney’s field goal has saved Cronulla’s blushes as they scored a scratchy 19-18 win over NRL strugglers Newcastle on Saturday.
The game looked to be headed for golden point before a Maloney one-point three minutes from time ensured the home side celebrated Chris Heighington’s 300th game and their 50th anniversary in the competition.
In front of 12,838 at Southern Cross Group Stadium, the Knights looked dead and buried down 18-6 after 55 minutes before two quick tries saw them storm back into it.
Valentine Holmes was looking like a hero when he started and finished a brilliant try, slicing through some ordinary defence on a kick return before finding Jack Bird and backing up to score in the corner.
With the Knights looking fatigued and badly flagging, Brendan Elliot picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and ran 90 metres to score to make it 18-12 with 11 minutes to go.
Holmes would have been looking for a hole to crawl into when he made a mess of a Peter Mata’utia grubber as Jacob Gagan pounced on the spoils. Trent Hodkinson booted the extras five metres in from the touchline to even it up with seven minutes to go.
However Maloney ensured the Sharks – who played their first game in the competition against Eastern Suburbs on April 2 in 1967 – were able to celebrate a momentous occasion.
The Sharks enjoyed a 14-6 halftime lead and the Knights were struck a blow early in the second half, when back-rower Sione Mata’utia, who was amongst their best contributors, was ruled out for the rest of the game after going up the tunnel for his second concussion test.
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen was enormous, running for 211m and making 19 tackles.