1. Interchange Rule
The reduced interchange is definitely having an impact on the game. The last ten minutes of each half have become more open as fatigue sets in. Ethan Lowe’s try was over two of the smaller players as the forwards were still moving towards the ball. Whilst Townsend scored off an error, the Cowboys were scrambling to cover the attempt to score, with many forwards well away from the action.
2. Ethan Lowe
The Cowboy’s victory showed they are a very balanced side and their scrambling defence was excellent in limiting the Sharks to just fourteen points.
Ethan Lowe was everywhere, scoring the game winner and making 39 tackles. Granville, Morgan and Thurston were rock solid and the three play makers shared the duties making life difficult for the Sharks defence.
Even without Antonio Winterstein who went off with concussion they were solid from sideline to sideline. Lachlan Coote taking down Andrew Fifita was the icing on the cake as the little man brought down one of the hardest to tackle in the league and drew the error.
3. The Sharks
They did not go away and fought hard and will be in the top eight if injury does not cripple their season. Paul Gallen is off with possible ligament damage and to be honest looked behind the game for a large portion of the game. It may be his last season and this interchange rule change may hasten his retirement. Against the top teams, it may be hard to carry even this club legend.
4. Michael Ennis.
Was Ennis carrying an injury? He did not have a real run, choosing to hand the ball off at every play the ball and got more exercise waving at the refs than in offence. He did make his normal huge number of tackles.
But was more often the second contact and with zero impact in attack all night, Sharks fans could be wondering what he was doing all night. Watching the game, you constantly wondered when he was going to take the ball to the line, but this just did not happen.
North Queensland Cowboys 20
Tries by O’Neill (16), Linnett (21) and Lowe (74),
Conversions: JT 3/3,
Penalties: JT 1/1
Cronulla Sharks 14
Tries: Townsend (38) Bird (49),
Penalties: Maloney 1/1,
Field Goal: Maloney 0/1
From the sheds:
Cowboys: A Winterstein – Concussion
Sharks: P Gallen – Knee, Luke Lewis – Concussion (passed concussion test).