Four Pointer: North Queensland Cowboys 16 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 26

It was an interesting match at 1300 SMILES Stadium on Saturday evening, where both teams were dominant and then dropped off. Neither the Cowboys nor the Sharks played a full eighty-minute match, however the Sharks’ dominance in the first half was the ultimate game decider, with the Sharks walking away with a ten point victory, and two competition points richer, placing them back into the top four on the competition ladder.

Cowboys Showed Character

As hard as the match seemed for the Cowboys, given the injury toll continues to rise every week, they showed a lot of character and determination which allowed them to stay in the contest for the duration of the match. While it was first thought that the Sharks would run away with it, the home team was able to keep up the fight, and while it ultimately wasn’t enough for them to win, they were able to successfully keep the Sharks from scoring more points than they did, and making the margin only ten points. The team had lost a few players in the weeks gone by, and similarly had to send off a few of their key players throughout the game due to injuries. The toll keeps growing, which is putting their finals hopes in doubt. Their game against the Sharks was a struggle as a result of this, however they managed to pull through and remain in the contest for the entire match, which shows their character and their determination.

Too Many Penalties

The amount of penalties that were given away during the match was ridiculous, and slowed the game down quite a lot, which depletes the level of entertainment for the audience, and similarly can ruin the momentum that a team carries. Throughout the match on Saturday night, eighteen penalties were conceded, nine from each team. Some were for legitimate reasons, however others were for silly reasons, possibly just to even out the count? Whatever the reason, the amount of penalties given away was poor and slowed down the game in a big way. It has happened in other matches during the season and over the last few years, and has had a big impact on the game overall. The penalties last night were in favour of the Sharks, then the Cowboys, and it continued in a cycle until the count was even, and both teams had received nine penalties each.

The Sharks had a poor few weeks in the lead up to the match on Saturday evening in Queensland, however when the match started, they took complete control of the match, and were dominant over the Cowboys in a huge way, which ultimately impacted the end result of the match, which was ten points in the favour of the visiting team. Their completion rate was high, and their goal line defence was really strong, which didn’t allow the Cowboys many opportunities to score points that would threaten the lead that the Sharks were able to build during the first forty minutes. They scored twenty-four unanswered points, with four tries, and Maloney kicking perfectly during the game. This first half dominance was important for the Sharks to get the win and enter the winners circle once again after two straight losses. However, their performance in the second half of the match was quite poor and they lacked a lot of what they had in the first half, however their goal line defence was still strong enough not to let the Cowboys overtake them, although they did let in a few easy tries which won’t be helpful to their for and against.

Finals Concerns Have Hit

The finals series is just around the corner, with only two rounds of the regular season left, and both the Cowboys and the Sharks are looking to be in the best place possible in order to achieve in the finals series. The Sharks are now back in the top four, however could lose that position quite easily due to the momentum of the teams around them, who are threatening that position for them. The Cowboys are in eighth position on the ladder, and their spot in the finals is being threatened all together. It is a possibility that they will miss out if the teams below them win in the next two weeks, and the Cowboys see little or no victory. This position comes as a result of the injury toll that the team has tallied throughout the season, especially at the hands of the loss of Johnathan Thurston; although they have won games without him, and the halves partnership of Martin and Morgan is strong, the direction that Thurston provides is lacking, making it difficult for the Cowboys. The other injuries that the side has tallied aren’t helping the team achieve, which could ultimately result in them missing out on the finals all together. Where will the Sharks and the Cowboys end up in September? We’ll have to wait and see.

SCOREBOARD

North Queensland Cowboys

Tries: Te Maire Martin, Ethan Lowe, Michael Morgan

Goals: Ethan Lowe 2

Cronulla Sharks:

Tries: Paul Gallen, Valentine Holmes, Chad Townsend, Jayden Brailey

Goals: James Maloney 5