Knights Take Down Sharks, Townsend in Hot Water
The Newcastle Knights were able to run in seven tries to two to trump the Sharks 38 points to 10, but it was a 52nd minute send-off that’s been the game’s biggest talking point.
The Sharks were left with just 12 players for close to the final half-hour of the contest, after halfback Chad Townsend took out Knights’ superstar Kalyn Ponga with a leaping shoulder charge moments after referee Ben Cummins had blown time off.
The Knights outscored the Sharks 16 points to 6 with Townsend off the field and sealed a convincing win. Kalyn Ponga was a standout for the Knights, scoring three tries, breaking 15 tackles, and running for a game-high 222 metres. Kurt Mann was also superb for the Knights out of dummy-half, setting up a pair of tries and making a team high 44 tackles, whilst their starting front-row ran through the Sharks, with David Klemmer and Jacob Saifiti combining for 343 metres and 50 tackles.
For the Sharks, few stood up in a losing effort. Skipper Wade Graham ran for 134 metres and made 31 tackles with no misses, whilst interchange forwards Toby Rudolf and Siosifa Talakai ran for a combined 273 metres to go along 66 tackles. It was a tough night for the Sharks back three, with Will Kennedy, Bryson Goodwin, and Ronaldo Mulitalo combining for six errors and all three failing to crack 100 run metres. With Shaun Johnson missing, the Sharks struggled to generate any attack and their season-long suspect defence was again caught out.
The boys from the Shire now look ahead to a Sunday night showdown against the plucky Warriors. A win for the Sharks will all but secure a semi finals berth, whilst a loss could make for an interesting final fortnight of the competition. The Warriors are fresh off a narrow six-point loss to the Eels and could provide a difficult task for the up-and-down Sharks, who will be without Chad Townsend and Wade Graham due to suspension.