Fearless Kalyn Ponga battles through stomach virus to inspire Knights to crucial win over Cronulla
Kalyn Ponga has fearlessly battled through a mystery stomach bug to inspire the Newcastle Knights to a 26-22 win over the Sharks, their first in three weeks.
Ponga set up two tries and scored two of his own all while persevering through a reported stomach virus to leave Cronulla shattered in a helter-skelter final period at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The fullback was spotted keeled over, coughing and holding his gut, upon returning from the half-time break (where he was also seen running to the bathroom before returning for the second half).
Despite the worrying scenes, Ponga stood tall when his troops needed him most, coming up time and again in the clutch moments.
Following the match coach Adam O’Brien revealed that Ponga and roommate Conor Watson had been suffering an illness most of the week.
“(Ponga) played really tough. He lives with Connor, the both of them have had a virus,” O’Brien said.
“Both pretty crook, couldn’t eat, and spent most of their time on the toilet the last 24 hours
“I was proud of both of them. To put himself in the frame, the one he set up was an exceptional piece of skill. You could clearly see he was carrying something.”
Classy Ponga lays on Knights try
Ponga opened the evening’s scoring with an easy one-on-one on the left edge, before setting up Mitch Barnett with a last-ditch off-load on the try line moments later.
He’d replicate that exact play early in the second when he faked out the Sharks’ defence with a dummy to find Brodie Jones on the inside.
“He’s done it again, he might have a stomach bug but it can’t stop him,” Fox Sports caller Dan Ginnane said.
League Great Greg Alexander added: “Just like he did in the first half, Kalyn Ponga takes on the Cronulla defence on the outside.
Wizardly Ponga at top of his game
“Absolutely brilliant. That after slumping to the ground twice coughing violently without any effect and he still comes up with that.”
But it was perhaps he’s final minute heroics when the match looked all but over for the Knights, where he crossed over off a frenzied last set of unstructured play, that had McDonald Jones in pandemonium.
Ponga’s brilliance sees Newcastle snap a three-match losing streak, while the Sharks will be left to end their horror week, following the exit of coach John Morris, with a loss.
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