When looking back at years bygone and classic matches between Cronulla and North Queensland, the Sharks Round 16 venture to Townsville in 2010 is most likely not one that immediately springs to mind.
But on a night where the Sharks trailed by many and hope had looked lost, the turn around in fortunes stands to typify the attitude of the Cronulla Club, still today.
Down by 18 points at the break, even the most one-eyed Sharks supporter would have wanted to see no more. So is the never-say-die spirit at the Sharks, though, the side would muster a resurgence and fight their way back into the contest.
“It was a bit of one-way traffic in the first half, their big men got a bit of a roll on, and with the crowd up there it was a bit hard to peg the momentum back,” then-Sharks hooker – and current NYC Head Coach – John Morris said.
“They had a lot of the footy in the first half, and I remember heading into the sheds, that even down by three tries we were confident we could work our way back in to the game if we were able to hang on to the ball.”
At the change of ends, an opportunistic four-pointer to centre Ben Pomeroy was the catalyst for the Sharks turnaround. Tries to Isaac Gordon and Nathan Gardner followed, and the Sharks had reduced the hosts’ lead to two.
The team had looked to have capped the remarkable reversal when sub Paul Aiton crossed adjacent to the posts, squaring the ledger at 18-apiece, with a conversion attempt to follow. But with Gardner unable to add the extra two, the scene was set for a classic finish.
With near-on five minutes to play, five-eighth Trent Barrett was the first to set his sights on a field-goal. The shaky attempt was waved away, gifting the Cowboys field position and a chance to hit the lead – which they happily took.
Johnathan Thurston snapped a pot-shot from in front of the posts to see his side to the front, and with under two minutes to play, the half had looked to have salvage a scrappy win for his side.
“Even then we didn’t drop our heads,” Morris said. “We always knew if we could just somehow get the ball back and work into a good position that we’d at least have one more chance at a field-goal."
And that they did.
Morris, who found the ball in his hands with just seconds to play, sunk a field-goal to level the scores at 19.
Morris’ effort sent the game into extra time, and paved the way for Trent Barrett to step up and land the winning field-goal in Golden Point.
“It was a scrappy shot but they’re all worth ‘one’,” Morris joked. “It was probably the ninth or tenth shot at field-goal from both sides, so we were more than happy to see it wobble over.”
Watch the highlights from the night, now replaying.