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Career first hat trick for Kalyn Ponga

This match has been all about Kalyn Ponga and the superstar fullback now has a hat trick.

The 22-year-old has put the icing on the cake with his third try, showing a rapid burst of acceleration to beat Connor Tracey on his way to the line.

It’s 32-10 as the clock winds down with just over eight minutes to play.

Fitzgibbon makes sure of it

For a minute or two there, Newcastle looked a chance of throwing away an unassailable lead while up a man.

But Mitchell Pearce just put Lachlan Fitzgibbon through a hole and the second rower slammed the ball down to sink the Sharks.

It’s 26-10 with 11 to play.

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Another dirty Cronulla tackle

Was there something in the water in Cronulla this week?

Braden Hamlin-Uele has now been placed on report for a lifting tackle on David Klemmer.

What’s doing, Sharks fans?

Tracey scores to give the Sharks a sniff

The Knights – like the rest of the NRL world – seem to be in a state of shock after that Townsend send off.

Their discipline has disappeared and the Sharks – who are now a man down – have taken advantage.

Connor Tracey sliced through and scored from close range and Bryson Goodwin added the extras.

This isn’t over yet. It’s 22-10 with 22 to play.

Cummins sends Townsend off

Wow. Wow. Wow.

What have we just witnessed?!

Referee Ben Cummins has just handed Chad Townsend his marching orders.

Here’s why. Kalyn Ponga went to restart play after catching the ball on the full in goal.

But he stopped shortly after tapping the ball – as Cummins stopped play – and turned his head.

At that point, Townsend flew out of the line and collected him with a shoulder which made contact with Ponga’s head, sending the Knights superstar flying.

The hit was huge but so was the reaction from Cummins.

Stray Trindall pass proves costly

Cronulla cannot take a trick tonight.

Braydon Trindall floated a pass to Ronaldo Mulitalo’s wing which initially appeared certain to put the winger in for his second try of the night.

But it eluded Mulitalo’s grasp, he knocked it on and the Knights now have ball in hand.

It’s 22-4 with 32 minutes to play.

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Second half starts

We’re back underway at Newcastle.

It took just 46 seconds for Cronulla to cough up the ball.

John Morris’ head was shaking in the box. It’s a surprise he can contain his frustration to just a head shake.

Half time reading

While we wait to see if Cronulla can mount a comeback, it’s time for some half time reading.

This piece from Malcolm Knox explores why the Queensland NRL teams have faded so badly this season.

Half time

That’s half time in Newcastle.

The Knights have a 22-4 lead and should be further in front.

Cronulla are prone to falling in a heap when their backs are against the wall but this has been a masterclass from the Knights.

If they play like this come finals football, look out.

Ponga makes his mark, again

Kalyn Ponga has his fifth career double and the Knights are absolutely airborne.

This is the best Newcastle have looked in weeks.

They are slick in attack, solid in defence but Ponga has been the difference.

He beat Will Kennedy and Braydon Trindall again to score his second.

Mason Lino added the extras, leaving the Knights with a big 22-4 lead with five to play in the first half.

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