Maloney field goal ends Knights comeback
A 78th-minute field-goal from Sharks five-eighth James Maloney saw the Sharks survive a scare against the Newcastle Knights in a frantic finish at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday.
The home side looked in control of the match when they held a 12-point lead with 11 minutes to go, before tries to Knights outside backs Brendan Elliot and Jacob Gagan got the visitors level at 18-all with seven minutes left.
Despite the Sharks maintaining a dominant 60 per cent of possession throughout the match, the Novocastrians showed impressive grit in defence to only go down by a point.
Elliot started the comeback when he broke through from the scrum feed to race 90 metres before Gagan landed on a Valentine Holmes error in-goal to give the visitors a sniff.
Jason Bukuya broke up the middle with five minutes remaining and found James Segeyaro but the Knights' scrambling defence ensured the Sharks would have to kick a field-goal to break this one.
Earlier in the game it took the Sharks six minutes to open the scoring with Gerard Beale planting the ball down after a grubber kick from Chad Townsend got around former Shark Jacob Gagan.
A poor error from Andrew Fifita in the 11th minute handed possession back to the Knights and they levelled the scores through Joe Wardle in just his second game in the Telstra Premiership.
The English recruit beat Valentine Holmes to the ball following a crafty left-foot grubber by Brock Lamb to score his first four-pointer in the NRL.
A monster hit by Matt Prior on Jamie Buhrer turned the ball over and the Sharks looked to be in through Ricky Leutele until a last-ditch effort by Knights fullback Elliot forced the ball free.
Cronulla would have all the possession in a seven-minute raid on the Knights' line, but strong defence by the Novocastrians turned the Sharks away with skipper Paul Gallen opting to take two after Mitch Barnett conceded the fourth penalty in a row for the visitors.
Maloney's penalty shot put the Sharks up by two, before a pinpoint kick from Townsend trapped Elliot in-goal to deliver more possession for the home side.
After turning the Sharks away for majority of the half, there was no show of resistance when Valentine Holmes threw a cut-out pass for Feki to beat Ken Sio on the outside and go over for a double just before the break.
It was a dire start to the second half until an 80-metre effort from Holmes and Bird brought the Sharks fans to their feet, with the fullback splitting Peter Mata'utia and Sam Stone up the middle before finishing off with a spectacular effort in the right-hand corner.
James Segeyaro entered the field with 25 minutes remaining and provided the Sharks with some immediate impact as he offloaded to Wade Graham into space.
Sione Mata'utia was ruled out of the game after a head clash in the second half, but was one of the Knights' best in a beaten side.
Sharks 19 (Beale, Feki, Holmes tries; Maloney 3 goals; Maloney 1 field goal) defeated Knights 18 (Wardle, Elliot, Gagan tries; Hodkinson 3 goal) at Southern Cross Group Stadium. Half-time: Sharks 14-6. Crowd: 12,838.