2023 NRL Preview Round 9: Sharks Vs Cowboys

Andrew Pelechaty previews the opening game of Round 9: Cronulla-Sutherland hosting North Queensland.



Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Vs North Queensland Cowboys
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney
Date: Thursday April 27, 7:50pm


Sharks: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Oregon Kaufusi 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Wade Graham 15. Jack Williams 16. Royce Hunt 17. Thomas Hazelton 18. Braydon Trindall 19. Connor Tracey 20. Jesse Colquhoun 21. Mawene Hiroti 22. Jayden Berrell

Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Jordan McLean 9. Reece Robson 10. Coen Hess 11. Jack Gosiewski 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Reuben Cotter 14. Tomas Chester 15. Jake Granville 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 17. Mitchell Dunn 18. Riley Price 19. Ben Hampton 20. Brendan Elliot 21. Taniela Sadrugu 22. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki

Referee: Gerard Sutton

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Back in September, Cronulla-Sutherland and North Queensland played an epic qualifying final at Shark Park.

In an extra time thriller, the Sharks and Cowboys scored five tries each, and it took a two-point field goal from former Shark Valentine Holmes (in the 92nd minute) to seal the Cowboys’ 32-30 win. It also broke Cronulla’s eight-game winning streak over the Cowboys, dating back to 2018.

Seven months later, and fortunes have changed. While Cronulla (4-3) are on the edge of the top four, the Cowboys have fallen away, with just three wins from eight games.

Though the Sharks haven’t been as impressive as last year, losing to Souths and the NZ Warriors at Shark Park (blowing a 20-0 lead to lose 32-30) and narrowly losing in Canberra. This has been balanced with a 40-8 smashing of St. George Illawarra (with a 28-0 second half).

Will Kennedy has scored nine tries (and two hat-tricks), while Nicho Hynes has kicked 19 goals (and a field goal) and played in three of the Sharks’ four wins.

The Cowboys’ three wins have been unconvincing: they played 20 minutes of good footy to beat Canberra, overran the Gold Coast in the second half, and had a tight win over Newcastle. But they’ve also lost twice to the vastly improved Warriors and had a Golden Point loss to Canterbury-Bankstown. Three years after returning from the NFL, Holmes has been the Cowboys’ star, with three tries and 23 goals, while Kyle Feldt has scored eight tries.

The Sharks and Cowboys both go in unchanged for this game.

On paper, this should be an easy win for the Sharks. They seemed to have learnt their lesson from the Warriors collapse, with wins over the Sydney Roosters and Canterbury-Bankstown (though the Dogs were still in the game with 10 minutes left). The Cowboys have been one of the most disappointing teams of 2023 and the Sharks should have too much class here.


Sharks 8, Cowboys 2.


Sharks by 18 points.

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