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Sharks shred Knights

April 2013

Henson Park, Marrickville,

New South Wales

by Jodie Newell

The Cronulla Sharks Rugby League Club in recent times have been making the news for all the alleged wrong reasons. Whilst pundit after pundit trumpet hearsay and “leaked” text messages and emails with reference to the politically driven ACC & ASADA drugs in sport investigation, one important rugby league news stories you wont read much about, like any good news, is how the VB NSW Cup Sharks side are playing outstanding rugby league and remain unbeaten at the top of the table after 7 rounds.

“Be ruthless in our actions”

- Cronulla Sharks player to team mates onfield during the Knights v Sharks VB NSW Cup match.

Cronulla went into the game with an impressive line up against the Newcastle Knights including senior players Nathan Gardener, Matthew Wright and Tim Robinson. Topping up the side was experienced Melbourne Storm player Brett Finch.

The Knights have been competitive this season under new coach Rick Stone (they were standing at 5th on the ladder with 4 wins and 1 loss) and were considered to be a competitive chance against the Sharks.

Led by Cronulla half back Chad Townsend, the Sharkies immediately pressured the Knights with fast play at the ball and solid in- close tackling. They attacked the left flank of the Knights with Daniel Moroko cashing in with a hat trick of tries for the game. Newcastle seemed powerless to stop Moroko as he continually crashed through Newcastle's defensive lines. He was ably assisted by Brett Finch, who is obviously looking to return to senior football with the Melbourne Storm side.

Brett Finch’s finishing skills were polished and effective against the Knights, setting up several scoring opportunities.

Whilst a spot is tight in the Storm team, with the coming winter and onset of possible injuries,it’s obvious the experienced Finch is working hard on his game and will be a danger to any team if and when he is included in the Storm line-up.

Whilst Newcastle had no answers, full back John Mantellato tried his best to get his side back into the game. Ben Topou also tried hard to make some kind of headway into the Cronulla defence but could not gain a toehold.

Cronulla’s players were continually communicating amongst themselves on the field with supportive calls and phrases such “complete the set” “make the tackle” or this gem which summed up the Sharkies playing attitude: “Be ruthless in our actions”

Chad Townsend had an outstanding game booting 7 conversions, whilst Tyrone Peachey continues to develop as a very good player. He was creative in his runs at the line and proved elusive on several plays. Melbourne Storm’s Maurice Blair chimed in with a handy pair of tries, whilst Jordan Mclean, another Storm squad player (yet to make his debut for the first grade team) also scored a pair of tries.

Newcastle’s Peter Matautia was the pick of the Knights players scoring 3 tries for the game.

Cronulla’s style of rugby league was entertaining to watch and they are well drilled by coach Tony Herman. They never took their foot of the gas when it came to pressure and they snuffed out any counter attacks by the Knights.

It is credit to the coaching staff down at Shark Park that they currently sit at the top of the VB NSW Cup table, considering the enormous pressure they have been unnecessarily been placed under by the ASADA / ACC investigations.

After the match Shark coach Tony Herman told NMG Sports regardless of all the hub hub he was determined to get his players focussed on the task of playing well executed rugby league “We want them (Cronulla players) to enjoy their footy. Yes, they are under a lot of pressure, but we want to make sure in most cases that these couple of hours are their best time of the week”.

Next week in round 8 action of the VB NSW Cup Cronulla face the in form Auckland Vulcans at home, whilst Newcastle Knights play the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs at home.

Brett Finch of the Melbourne Storm, playing for the VB NSW Cup Sharks team at Henson Park. Finch’s experience will definitely come into play

when the typical winter injuries start to effect the first grade team.

image: 2013 NewellMediaGroup

Final score:  Cronulla Sharks 50 defeated Newcastle Knights 16

Tries: Sharks D Moroko 3, M Blair 2, J McLean 2, T Sopoaga, T Peachey

Tries: Knights P Matautia 3, M Frei

Conversions: Sharks :  C Townsend 7

Conversions: Knights :  -

Referee: Phil Henderson

Touch Judges :  John Woods   Stephen Ellison

At Henson Park