Rugby league can be a brutal game — just ask the Cronulla Sharks.
In a week they’ve been the talk of the rugby league world for all the wrong reasons, the side has suffered a heartbreaking loss in Newcastle.
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After coach John Morris was sacked this week, the Sharks have been defeated by a try with just two minutes remaining to Knights star Kalyn Ponga.
The question of whether the Sharks would put in the effort or would just write off the season appears to have been answered however with Cronulla with the side taking it right down to the wire.
At halftime, the Sharks were down 14-6 with the first half try coming after a controversial collision.
It wasn’t looking great for the Sharks with the Knights scoring three tries in the first half.
But as can happen, the halftime break changed the momentum of the game as the Sharks came screaming back.
The Sharks’ Briton Nikora and Connor Tracey scored tries early in the half, broken up by a try from Knights rookie Brodie Jones.
It’s a brutal finish to a horror week for the Sharks.Source:Getty Images
But it was Cronulla winger Mawene Hiroti’s try that looked to have stolen the result.
He scored in the 66th minute diving for the corner and somehow keeping his legs in the air as the defender Brayden Musgrove tried to drag him into touch.
A sideline conversion from halfback and goalkicker Chad Townsend nailed a kick from the sideline.
It gave the Sharks their first lead of the game at 22-20.
It was always going to go down to the wire.
With three minutes to go and on the last, the Knights’ Blake Green ducked one tackle and kicked across field, but it went backwards, before Jones took the catch, offloading to Tyson Frizell, who found Ponga, with the Knights’ fullback getting over the line.
“Incredible, the Knights retake the lead,” Dan Ginnane screamed on Fox League.
“What a finish. Heartbreak again for the Sharks.
“My goodness, can this week get any worse?”
Greg Alexander added: “They couldn’t have done any more Cronulla, three times tonight they’ve been trailing by eight and they’ve been able to force their way back into the game. They hit the lead with 10 to go and that man (Ponga) looks like he may have stolen it from them.”
A sick Kalyn Ponga has torn the heart out of the Sharks’ chest.Source:Getty Images
The Sharks then kicked short and won the ball but a mistake on the line was enough for the Knights to hang on.
On Fox League, Yvonne Sampson said it was “cruel after the week they’ve had”.
Interim Sharks coach Josh Hannay said the side was “gutted” by the result.
“It’s little comfort when you lose a game like that at the back end,” he said.
“Coming into this game, we would have taken that type performance considering the week we’ve had. But ultimately, we were a lazy kick chase away from winning that game.”
Social media went nuts for Ponga, having come down with a virus and been throwing up throughout the match.
Knight wins. Great game. Love watching games refereed by Matt Checcin. Always entertaining. Let it flow. Shark brave, very skilful. Knight forward Brodie Jones was outstanding. Then we have Kalyn Ponga!!! Played out of skin tonight. Thank you gentlemen. I enjoyed the game
Well @Cronulla_Sharks just got beaten effectively by one crook bloke who had a hand in every try. #kalynponga can take a bow but the sharks…. yeesh brave but blew it #NRLKnightsSharks#ponga
Throwing up his guts in backplay all half. Two tries including the matchwinner and two assists. Take a bow Kaylen Ponga #NRL#NRLKnightsSharks
If I’m crook, I’m barely leaving the couch let alone scoring a double. And then there’s Kalyn Ponga.
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