Newcastle backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon and five-eighth Connor Watson are considered little chance of playing in the club'’s final-round clash against St George Illawarra after the Knights’ injury curse struck again at Shark Park yesterday.
Fitzgibbon was knocked senseless after a sickening head clash with teammate Josh King in the first half and had no memory after the game of the 24 minutes he spent on the field in the Knights’ 38-12 defeat.
Given the severity of his concussion, the Knights may opt not to consider risking him against the Dragons, even if he passes his tests during the week.
Watson, returning after a month on the sideline, was also in the wars, re-tearing his groin 15 minutes into the game before eventually being forced off early in the second half.
He may need surgery.
“I was a passenger for most of it out there but I tried to battle on with it,” Watson said.
“It’s just so frustrating because we’d done so much work to get me back out there and I thought it was right. Obviously, it wasn’t.”
With Kalyn Ponga also highly unlikely to be fit for the Dragons, Bulldogs-bound Jack Cogger, who has repeatedly put off finger surgery over the past six weeks in case he was needed, is likely to get a farewell game at McDonald Jones Stadium next Saturday.
The Knights were always chasing the game after the Sharks jumped out to an 8-0 lead and trailed 14-6 at halftime with fullback Nick Meaney’s 31st minute try keeping them in it.
Their cause wasn’t aided by a 9-3 halftime penalty count to the Sharks which finished 12-5, with backrower Aidan Guerra sent to the sin-bin three minutes from halftime for repeated infringements.
At 18-6 early in the second half, the game appeared gone before prop Daniel Saifiti finished off an outstanding try after several forwards handled.
Knights coach Nathan Brown thought his side did well to be still in the game at 18-12 midway through the second half before fullback Valentine Holmes struck a killer blow for the home side.
“We had to work hard, losing the blokes we did, and the penalty count and possession,” Brown said.
“At 18-12, I was quite proud of the guys’ effort to be honest with you because they were certainly working us over and our middles were asked to do a lot of work.
“Then Holmes opened us up which he has got the ability to do.”
They added some late tries to blow-out a scoreline that the Knights probably did not deserve given their effort and adversity.
In a further blow, forward Mitch Barnett was placed on report for an alleged crusher tackle on Andrew Fifita.
The Sharks honoured backrower Luke Lewis, who was playing his final game at Shark Park before retirement while former player Lance Thompson, who passed away last week, was also remembered.