In a tale of two halves we saw the undermanned Cowboys come out and put 14 points up in the first half, only for the Sharks to run them down in the second.
Kicking cost the Cowboys big time
In the first half, the Cowboys failed to convert two conversions and one penalty into points. Leaving six points on the field was obviously costly given the final margin. Without their regular kicker, the Cowboys had, up until last night, performed more than adequately with the boot. But these misses, combined with three times being caught with the ball on the fifth tackle and a kick out of bounds, were key in assisting the Sharks back into the game.
Sharks second halves are very effective
A quoted statistic showed that the Sharks are scoring about 80 points and giving up just 8 in the first twenty after they return to play. This was again on show as they went ahead just after the 66th minute. Teams need to shut down the Sharks forwards who were allowed way too many metres in the tackle. Stop dancing and get them to the ground.
What have the Cowboys done to the refs in Sharks games?
In recent times, the Sharks have held the games when playing against the Cowboys, but the display last night included a disproportionate amount of non-calls that left many scratching their heads. The Maloney incident on Coote was as blatant as you can get. He went through with his knees, turned, and even though Coote was flat on his chest with a second Shark holding him down. Maloney was allowed to dive on the downed Coote (a late flop at best) whilst swinging his arm in and yet was not penalised for any of these actions. When they are not giving such obvious calls, you might as well walk off the park. Given that they gave no penalties to the Cowboys in the second half, you have to wonder.
We have lost the right to defend our mates
The second part of the Maloney incident was that no Cowboys player went in and smashed him for the gutless act. You cannot throw a punch or you get ten minutes, but that also means you can no longer defend your mate. Cronulla wanted the biff last night, but even though they deserved it, they were protected from their actions by this rule. The Cowboys were soft after this hit, they should have run every single attack at Maloney and made him feel it. If they had done that, Maloney would not have been able to set up the attacks that won them the game.
Cronulla Sharks 18
Tries: Maloney, Townsend, Feki.
Conversions: Maloney 3/3.
North Queensland Cowboys 14
Tries: Winterstein, Hampton, Feldt.
Conversions: 1/1 Feldt, Lowe 0/3.