Newcastle have booked their place in the 2023 finals series with an impressive 32-6 win over the Sharks. However, the victory may have come at a cost as star player Kalyn Ponga suffered a shoulder injury during the match.
Ponga showcased his incredible skills, scoring a try and assisting in two more as the Knights extended their winning streak to eight games. Unfortunately, the sell-out crowd fell silent when Ponga was taken down by a tackle from Jesse Ramien, resulting in a shoulder injury.
The severity of Ponga’s AC joint issue is yet to be determined through scans. While the injury is a concern for the Knights, they can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they can afford to be without Ponga for at least the next match against the Dragons. With a home final almost guaranteed, they have some time to manage his recovery.
The first half of the game was evenly matched, with both teams tied at 6-6. However, the Knights pulled away in the second half with two converted tries from Bradman Best and Dominic Young, giving them a 12-point lead. Another try from Best, in which Ponga was heavily tackled by Ramien, extended the Knights‘ lead. The team continued their dominant performance, scoring an impressive 32 unanswered points.
Earlier in the game, Young was denied a try due to a ruling, and it was the Sharks who scored first through Connor Tracey on the right edge. Ponga responded with a brilliant play, maneuvering past Matt Moylan to get the Knights on the scoreboard. Both teams had opportunities to score more points in the first half, but strong defensive efforts from both sides prevented any further breakthroughs.
The Sharks had their chances to score in the second half, with Briton Nikora breaking through the line twice. However, Dylan Lucas made a crucial play, denying Nikora a try after ruling that he lost the ball. Young was also stopped just short of the try-line by Braydon Trindall, who had a standout defensive performance.
Despite the Sharks‘ efforts, the Knights dominated the second half, led by Ponga. The team scored five consecutive tries, with Lucas making an impressive individual effort to secure his first NRL try. The victory solidifies the Knights‘ position in the finals series, while the Sharks will face a must-win match against the Raiders next week.