Matt Pritchard reviews the first game of the Saturday night Kogarah double-header, with the Sharks playing the Cowboys. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Connor Tracey (27, 38), William Kennedy (35, 66), Mawene Hiroti (2), Josh Dugan (14), Matt Moylan (32), Teig Wilton (57).
Goals: Chad Townsend (4, 15, 28, 33, 37, 39, 59, 68).
Tries: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (7), Valentine Holmes (76).
Goals: Valentine Holmes (9).
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Chad Townsend (Sharks)
2 pts – William Kennedy (Sharks)
1 pt – Matt Moylan (Sharks)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Good weather conditions greeted the players at Jubilee Stadium with both sides coming off last round losses. The COVID-19 outbreak in Brisbane meant the game was transferred from the Sunshine Coast Stadium to Cronulla-Sutherland’s temporary home ground.
Cronulla established a 36-6 lead at the break, punishing the Cowboys with four tries in a 13-minute period before half-time.
It was the Sharks who crossed first. In the space of three plays they pushed the ball from the right-hand side to the left and back: Chad Townsend, Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan and Connor Tracey combining to put replacement winger Mawene Hiroti over in the corner. Townsend converted from the sideline and would go on to kick eight from eight.
North Queensland struck back almost immediately. An attacking raid by the Sharks broke down with Towsend’s wayward pass going out the back which was collected by Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who strolled downfield untouched to score. Valentine Holmes’ conversion levelled the scores after nine minutes.
Before long the Sharks hit back. Townsend was allowed to dummy and run across the Cowboys’ defensive line before putting a neat kick through for an unmarked Josh Dugan to score. Cronulla led 12-6 after 15 minutes.
Tracey’s 27th minute try opened the floodgates for the Sharks. Attacking down the Cowboys’ right-hand edge, Moylan and Kennedy combined once again before Teig Wilton found Tracey out wide for the try.
A superb 40/20 kick by Blayke Brailey in the middle of the tackle count set up their fourth try of the afternoon. Matt Moylan scored off a flick pass from Braden Hamlin-Uele as he crossed for his first try since 2018.
Four minutes from the break the Sharks were in again with the combination of Moylan, Townsend and Kennedy, with the fullback scoring in a move starting in his own half.
Cronulla were in entertainment mode by the break. Townsend’s towering kick was chased through aggressively by Moylan, who tapped back for a second kick by Brailey, which ended up in Tracey grounding the ball for his second.
The game was over at half-time with North Queensland playing for pride in the second half.
HALF-TIME: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 36 North Queensland Cowboys 6Embed from Getty Images
It was a scrappy start to the second half with nine errors in the first 16 minutes after the break.
Cronulla extended their lead with Wilton the recipient of a cross-field kick which was allowed to bounce in all directions by the lacklustre Cowboys. It was the first NRL try for the Sharks’ second-rower.
With 13 minutes left on the clock, Kennedy ran onto a pass from Townsend to put the Sharks within reach of the 50-point mark: his second try of the afternoon put them up 48-6.
The Cowboys scored a consolation try inside the final five minutes, with Drinkwater finding Holmes who stepped through and lunged out to score.
Cronulla’s win was their biggest against the Cowboys, surpassing their 42-6 win on June 3, 2000. That puts the side inside the top eight with a Saturday night blockbuster with Sydney Roosters awaiting them in Round Five.
Todd Payten was unimpressed with his team’s effort. He confirmed in the post-match presser that Josh McGuire would be released early from his contract if he was to find an alternate club. They travel to Leichhardt Oval next Sunday to take on the Wests Tigers, hoping to end a four-game losing streak.
FULL-TIME: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 48 North Queensland Cowboys 10
Josh Dugan (Sharks) – failed HIA
Justin O’Neill (Cowboys) – failed HIA
Match Review Committee