The Sharks have recorded their tenth successive win in notching a 13 points to 10 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys.
A sole try to Valentine Holmes set the Sharks on their way, before the class and poise of James Maloney saw the side home to a crucial 3-point win.
Though it wasn’t all one-way traffic for the Sharks on a tense night at Southern Cross Group Stadium, as the Cowboys got on the front foot early with thanks to a penalty, and made the Sharks pay in kind.
Antonio Winterstein broke through the Sharks right-edge defence to score the opening four points of the match, and Johnathan Thurston happily obliged to extend his side’s lead to 6.
A consistent flow of penalties had the visitors in good field position for much of the first half, as the Sharks were forced to absorb and repel the pressure that the Premiers applied.
Though the Shark showed their resilience, and soon after would be rewarded with both possession and position.
Just as the Sharks had turned them away, the Cowboys had looked to do the same, and they were successful in keeping their line intact inside the opening quarter.
The men from North Queensland would again venture inside the Sharks half, and when handed another penalty, Thurston pointed the the posts and took their lead to 8.
Soon after the Cowboys would earn possession inside the Sharks 20 metres, and would go within inches of extending their lead to 12 if not 14.
But the outstretched arms of Holmes would prevent Winterstein notching a double, while also providing the Sharks with their first points of the night.
Holmes’ intercept saw him run the better part of 90 metres, turning Lachlan Coote inside out before planting down in the South-West corner of the Stadium.
Maloney converted to reduce the deficit to two, before a penalty on the brink of half time saw the Sharks draw level at 8.
The second half began much the same as the first ended, as the sharks again looked to apply pressure on the Cowboys line.
Consecutive forced drop outs had the Sharks in excellent position, before Maloney looked to send the Sharks to a 10-8 front.
Unable to do so from the missed penalty kick, it wouldn’t be long before the five-eighth had a chance to redeem.
A 56th minute penalty set the Sharks two points to the good, but the visitors were far from finished.
A penalty to the Cowboys just six minutes later had the scores level at 10, before the Cowboys went to cross the line.
Although twice denied by the bunker, the Cowboys were the beneficiaries of a late knock-on call that had looked to be a tough one against the Sharks.
As time dwindled, a Jason Taumalolo bust had the Cowboys in excellent position. But unable to capitalise, the Sharks would soon work the ball into a good area, before Maloney opted for a field goal.
The 74th minute strike paved the way for another penalty goal in the 77th, which saw the Sharks to the eventual 3-point winning margin.
The win is the tenth in succession for the Sharks, who will rest up after a bruising encounter over the Bye weekend next week.
CRONULLA SHARKS – 13
TRIES: Holmes | GOALS: Maloney (Conv. 1/1, Pen. 3/4, Field Goals: 1/1)
DEF. NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS – 10
TRIES: Winterstein | GOALS: Thurston (Conv. 1/1, Pen. 2/2)