Sharks delight in Tolman milestone game

Margie McDonald |

Cronulla have recorded their third win in a row by dominating Newcastle 18-0, highlighted by popular forward Aiden Tolman scoring a try in his 300th NRL game.

The meagre crowd at PointsBet Stadium on Friday night was on its feet when the veteran crashed through three Knights bodies for his four-pointer.

Tolman becomes the 10th player to score a try in their 300-milestone game but is the first front-rower to do so.

The 33-year-old had only scored 15 times in 299 games but ‘sweet 16’ came one pass off the ruck from close range.

“I don’t like being in the limelight much but 300 games is a pretty big occasion and I’m only the 43rd person to do it in 114 years so it’s pretty special,” Tolman said.

“You don’t expect to go out and play one game of NRL so to get to 300 is pretty surreal to be honest.

“It is an amazing feeling and I’m so grateful to have got here – and still playing. It’s not the end yet.

Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon said it was fitting that Tolman scored his milestone try in the manner in which he did.

“We watched a highlights reel of his career yesterday and all his tries were either diving on grubbers or barging over like that,” Fitzgibbon said.

“That’s Aiden – he just turns up.”

It provided some warmth in a match played in a cold and blustery southerly, with Nicho Hynes managing just one conversion of Cronulla’s four tries.

It was the first time the Sharks have held a team scoreless since their 2016 premiership season and the first time the Knights have been held scoreless since a 40-0 loss to Penrith in March 2017.

“We haven’t had this fella (nodding at skipper Kalyn Ponga) for a couple of weeks so we haven’t spent much time over the past month with our attack and that was clearly where we look disjointed,” coach Adam O’Brien said.

But he said at 2-2 to start the season he wasn’t “driving over a cliff just yet”.

The gusty conditions contributed to the modest 8-0 half-time score.

Tolman’s try got the ball rolling on 26 minutes before Sione Katoa leapt over his opposite winger Enari Tuala to score in the 39th.

Newcastle’s Tyson Frizell — in his 200th NRL game — strained his hamstring which forced him off the field, he didn’t return.

The visitors’ cause suffered another setback when winger Dominic Young was sent to the sin bin in the 60th minute for a lifting tackle.

Siosifa Talakai wrong-footed and fended his way to the try line in the 68th while the Knights were down to 12 men to extend the margin.

Stand-in centre Talakai then pushed away Dane Gagai in the lead-up to a brilliant team try finished off by Will Kennedy in the 75th — which Hynes converted.

“He grew up a centre but has obviously played middle and back-row so it was a big job for him tonight,” Fitzgibbon said of Talakai.

“I thought our back five were enormous and Sifa stood out.”