5 KEY POINTS | Sharks v Cowboys
By Ryan Selvage
1 – Resilient Sharks show signs of a steeled mentality
In the lead up to Saturday’s Round one clash, pundits and punters alike questioned how the Sharks would fare on the return to Townsville, after the way the side bowed out from the 2015 competition.
Mental demons were something not evident in the Sharks play, and a side intent on challenging for higher honours in 2016 went about staking their claims to do so.
Wade Graham’s return of the ball from the in-goal to the field of play (68th minute), and Mick Ennis’ last-ditch charge down on Johnathan Thurston’s field-goal attempt (72nd minute), show the side will again fight and claw their way to the end of any and every match – a vital asset in any Club’s premiership quest.
2 – Barba at the back an added prong in the Sharks attack
The hotly contested fullback role at the Sharks, won out by Ben Barba, showed signs of early promise for the side going forward this season.
While former number one Michael Gordon has known for his strong running game, Barba’s work on the ball and his ability to link with his outside men will prove an added bonus for Coach Shane Flanagan’s plans in attack in 2016.
Barba showed his worth and skill in the one jersey, and his ball playing abilities at that, when turning Jack Bird inside for the Sharks second try of the night.
3 – Lowe blow the result of sapping Townsville conditions
Ethan Lowe’s late winner came off the back of two repeat sets, where in the hard-running backrower proved too big and too strong for a fatigued Sharks defence.
On a hot and steamy night in the far North, back-to-back sets were telling, and no doubt the Sharks will look to learn from the night’s events for future matches this year.
4 – Maloney/Townsend combination off to a solid start.
Many a judge questioned how the incoming halves pairing of James Maloney & Chad Townsend would fare on their debut outing, and it must be said the duo earned the thumbs up after what was a solid start to their respective seasons.
Townsend crossed for a try, while Maloney slotted three goals from as many attempts, with the pair looking dangerous when asked to link in attack.
Maloney though, dejected after the side’s defeat, told Fox Sports he and Townsend’s combination is a work in progress, and that Sharks Members and fans can come to expect more this season.
5 –Gallen’s knee the talking point at the end of the 80 minutes
Paul Gallen left the field with a knee injury early in the game’s second half, with the 34-year-old set to learn the full extent of the injury on Monday morning.
In what would be a blow to the side’s chances of success in 2016, Gallen’s injury left many speculating on when, or if, the Captain would return to action this season.