Sharks Hold off Knights to win Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup

The Cronulla Sharks are the 2018 Tarsha Gale Cup premiers after defeating the Newcastle Knights 32-22 at Leichhardt Oval.

Faith Nathan was once again the star of the day, scoring a hat-trick of tries which backs up her five from last week and her three from the first week of finals. 

It would be Nathan to score the first try of the Grand Final, which came after a nervous start from both sides with the first quarter almost going the distance without a point being scored.

The Sharks raced away to a 16-0 lead at half-time thanks to tries in quick succession to Jaida White, Madison Higgins-Ashby and Zali Fray, but none of these were converted.

A barnstorming run by Faith Nathan put the Sharks on the front foot as they looked to continue their first half form, but it would be the Knights to post much needed first points after the half-time break. Emily Harman showed blistering pace to get on the outside of her opposition defender and race away to the try-line.

There was no stopping Nathan the next time she got an opportunity. Camped on the Sharks line, she picked the ball up from dummy half and performed a textbook sidestep that left the marker clutching at air, before she ran 90 metres to score under the posts.

Refusing to let the game slip away, Newcastle responded with a brutal effort when Caitlin Johnson crashed through the defence and carried a Sharks player on her back in her pursuit to the line.

The Knights earned a scrum at the start of the final quarter, and capitalised on the opportunity when Jasmin Strange crossed. The Sharks looked to respond with a try immediately afterwards, but the play of the day came as the Knights somehow held the ball carrier up in inspirational fashion.

Cronulla would eventually score through Lynda Howarth on the last tackle of that same set, but Joeli Morris set up an exciting finish when she sliced through with some fancy footwork to score and put the Knights back within reaching distance. 

Nathan – who has been dominant whenever she has played this season – scored what would be the premiership winning try for the Sharks as she once again showed her athleticism to score yet another long-range four-pointer.