MATCH REPORT | Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 16-14 North Queensland Cowboys

The struggling Sharks hosted the depleted Cowboys in a Thursday night clash that all but decided the fate of the two finals hopefuls. 

MATCH DETAILS

A mouth-watering clash kicked off the annual Beanies for Brain Cancer round, with the crowd braving the cold at Shark Park. Since the Sharks’ stars have returned they have been unable to find their groove, losing their last five. The Cowboys are coming off a home loss against the Rabbitohs, where they fell out of the game in the last 10 minutes.

An early error from Josh Dugan put the Cowboys in pole position with Scott Drinkwater taking full advantage. The young fullback blitzed through Chad Townsend to open the scoring after three minutes.

The Sharks were next to score after getting on top in the arm wrestle, setting up camp in the Cowboys’ half. A well-worked backline play gave Shaun Johnson room to give a slick ball to Ronaldo Mulitalo, who scored in the corner with a few minutes left in the half.

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That old law about completing your sets after points hurt the Sharks as an error left the Cowboys in great field position. Cowboys legend Matt Scott took matters into his own hands, wrestling away from some sloppy Sharks forwards to give the Cowboys an 8-4 lead going into halftime.

A head knock to Kyle Feldt prevented the winger from returning in the second half, pushing Tom Opacic to the wing and Shane Wright into the centres. A lazy Sharks penalty marched the Cowboys upfield and they were quick to take advantage. A Jake Granville grubber was deflected back into the hooker, which then skidded off for bench forward Francis Molo to dive on under the posts.

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For the next fifteen minutes the Sharks dominated field position, but with the help of some desperation defence, the sky blue failed to go over. That was until the sheer weight of possession led to Shaun Johnson giving a dream short ball to Dugan who ran under the posts to score in the 64th minute. A great set after points forced a Cowboys dropout, the fatigue hit the depleted Queenslanders as Bronson Xerri dodged through some broken play to score under the posts. The Sharks now had their first lead of the game with twelve minutes left. It stayed that way as the Sharks won their first game in five weeks, keeping their finals aspirations alive.

FOUR POINTERS

Sharks Get Away With One

The Sharks have gotten away with a much-needed win after a extreme weight of field position and possession eventually took its toll on the Cowboys. Two late tries put the Sharks ahead with Shaun Johnson and Paul Gallen steering them to victory.

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Cowboys’ Potential Showing

Jake Clifford, Shane Wright and Murray Taulagi are giving Cowboys fans something to cheer about. The youth at the Cowboys are showing heart, and while there are a few errors to be cleaned up, there should be confidence in their future.

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Finals Hopes Survive for Sharks 

The Sharks have been under heavy criticism, and there are rumours of internal problems, but when you win all that gets left behind. Cronulla will now be hoping to make a run at the finals as they now sit at ninth on the ladder, only one win away from sixth.

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Another Late Game Fade

The Cowboys have lost the game in the final minutes two weeks in a row now, but the loss of Kyle Feldt and the amount of defence they had to do might explain it. The winger went off for a HIA and failed to return, leading to a reshuffle that saw four middle forwards on at the same time.

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THE RESULT

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 16
Tries: Ronaldo Mulitalo, Josh Dugan, Bronson Xerri
Goals: Chad Townsend 2/3

North Queensland Cowboys 14
Tries: Scott Drinkwater, Matt Scott, Francis Molo
Goals: Jake Clifford 1/3

SQUADS

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Josh Morris 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 16. Matt Prior 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen. Interchange: 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 14. Blayke Brailey 15. Jack Williams 17. Billy Magoulias.

North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 14. Coen Hess 4. Tom Opacic 5. Murray Taulagi 6. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 15. Matt Scott 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 20. Corey Jensen.

 

 

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