Barba gets first Sharks try in strong win

Cronulla have twice come back from 10 points down to earn a thrilling 30-28 NRL victory over Newcastle at Hunter Stadium.

Despite a miracle tapback from Jake Mamo, a vintage performance from skipper Kurt Gidley, and a late rally that wowed the 14,081-strong crowd, the Knights fell just short and copped their ninth loss in their past 10 games.

Newcastle were headed for victory when Mamo produced an incredible tapback from well over the deadball line for Carlos Tuimavave to touchdown and give them a 10-point lead in the 45th minute.

But three tries in the space of seven minutes – coincidentally when Ben Barba was introduced from the bench – quickly turned the match in Cronulla’s favour.

First veteran Luke Lewis wound back the clock when he found space on the wing, before sending the ball infield and then backing up Barba to score in the 51st.

He also copped a high shot from Tariq Sims in the act of scoring that landed the Knights forward on report.

Barba then went through on their trademark outside-inside play in the 54th minute for his first four-pointer in Sharks colours, followed by Jack Bird completing his double with an individual effort in the 58th.

Newcastle set up a grandstand finish when Kade Snowden powered through in the 79th minute, but the Sharks held on to celebrate a highly-entertaining victory.

Two penalty goals inside the first 10 minutes allowed the hosts to jump out to an early 4-0 advantage, only for Cronulla’s Valentine Holmes hit back in the 16th.

The Sharks then took the lead with a penalty goal after Kade Snowden was put on report for a high shot on Matt Prior.

Gidley however, orchestrated two long range efforts to lead his side to a 10-point lead.

The first was a 28th-minute faceball for Dane Gagai to break into the backfield and grubber ahead for Mamo, then six minutes later Robbie Rochow ran off his hip and found Beau Scott in support.

But just as the Knights threatened to run away with the match, the Sharks got a vital six points back in bizarre fashion just before the break.

Gidley was ruled to have had a foot on the sideline at dummy half, allowing the Sharks to put Bird over on a set play in the ensuing set.

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