The North Queensland Cowboys NYC side has defeated the Sharks 32 points to 22 in their Holden Cup clash at Remondis Stadium.
Despite a gallant effort from the Sharks 20s side, the class of the Cowboys juniors prevailed in seeing them move closer to sealing the minor premiership.
The Sharks got off to a near-perfect start when captain Anthony Moraitis crossed in the northwestern corner of Remondis Stadium after six minutes. Five-eighth Jaiden Brown couldn’t add the extras, and the side’s lead remained at four.
Errors and ill-discipline saw both sides stutter, and the game lacked rhythm and flow before the Cowboys soon clicked into gear.
Cowboys’ hooker and captain Andrew Niemoeller split the Sharks defence on two occasions, burrowing over from close range to see his side hit a 12-4 lead.
North Queensland number six Kyle Laybutt made no mistakes, slotting the goals and sending his side out by eight.
Cronulla hit back through big man Alec Susino on the brink of the break, before the Cowboys’ flying fullback Kalyn Ponga took the visitors out to a 16-10 score.
In cool, breezy conditions the Townsville boys showed no signs of discomfort as they again scored upon the game’s resumption.
Winger Gideon Mosby crossed for his first of the afternoon – and the 29th of his season – in equalling an NYC record for most tries in a year. Unable to convert, Laybutt’s miss ensured the Cowboys held a 20-10 lead with 30 minutes to play.
Cronulla edged back to within four points when captain Moraitis crossed for his second of the afternoon, but the Cowboys would return serve when five-eighth Laybutt scooted through the Sharks defence to score under the posts.
Out by 10, the competition heavyweights again made their presence felt as the game wound down to a close, and Ponga continued the scoring as he picked up a loose ball to run 90 metres untouched.
Sharks prop Harrison Muller crossed right on the stroke of fulltime, but the six points was merely a consolation as the Cowboys rounded out a 32-22 victory.