NRL 2019: Shaun Johnson loses in Cronulla Sharks debut

Former Warrior Shaun Johnson had a mixed bag in his Cronulla Sharks debut as they lost to the Newcastle Knights on Friday.

The halfback had a quiet night in his first match for his new side who lost 14-8 in a game filled with plenty of drama.

The 28-year-old kicked one conversion, and a penalty goal, to go along with 46 running meters and 343 kicking meters.

For Newcastle, winger Edrick Lee went from hero to zero to hero in a matter of minutes to spark the Knights to victory.

Playing in his first game for the Knights after moving from the Sharks in the off-season, Lee figured in almost all of his side's key moments as Nathan Brown's men began their new era with a hard-fought win.    

The first try came after 69 minutes when Tim Glasby surged through a gaping hole off a Mitchell Pearce short-ball to break the deadlock and give the home side an 8-2 advantage.

But just when the 21,813-strong crowd thought their side had the game in the bag, Sharks winger Sione Katoa was sensationally awarded a penalty try after Lee was ruled to have taken him out.   

Josh Dugan grounded the ball off a Johnson grubber but couldn't ground it cleanly.   

The bunker then ruled that Katoa, who was ahead of Dugan in the chase, would have got to the ball if it weren't for Lee's interference to lock the scores up with eight minutes remaining.   

But Lee turned the game on its head once again three minutes later when he latched on to a Chad Townsend long pass and ran 85 metres to ice the match with a brilliant intercept try.   

Lee was immense all game, pulling off three try-saving tackles in the first-half to help deliver a victory which will give the Knights hope of returning to the top eight after five years in the wilderness and three wooden spoons in that period.

All of the Knights' news faces stood out with David Klemmer running for 186m from 20 carries and making 25 tackles in a game-changing performance.   

But Kalyn Ponga had a mediocre night in his first performance in the No.6 jumper, often looking devoid of ideas and taking several poor kicking options.   

After the scores were tied 2-2 early in the second-half, the Sharks were ill-disciplined in what was new coach John Morris' first game in charge.   

Their five errors in the second 40 were telling in the wash up after they threw away several opportunities.   

Meanwhile, Knights prop Daniel Saifiti was taken for scans after suffering a   suspected MCL injury.   

AAP