The Cronulla Sharks have come back from 14-0 down to defeat the North Queensland Cowboys 18-14 at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The match started at a frantic pace with both sides making easy metres on their attacking sets.
The Cowboys would be first to look like scoring as Michael Morgan went to the air to Valentine Holmes at the back. Lachlan Coote came flying through to hit Holmes without the ball and from the ensuing play, Ray Thompson grounded the ball over the line.
After going to the video referee, the try was not awarded and the Sharks would be back in possession of the ball again.
The Sharks were next to go upstairs after receiving the ball from the following set, worked their way down field.
James Maloney spotted an unmarked Sosaia Feki on the left wing and put in a deft grubber for the winger who would touchdown.
The try was again sent to the video referee and the result was the same; no try. Feki was ruled to have knocked on and the scores remained at 0-0 after nine minutes.
The high intensity of the match continued as the Cowboys then worked the ball down to the Sharks’ end and got themselves into good field position. The Cowboys spread the ball to the left wing and found an unmarked Antonio Winterstein who would dive over for the first try of the night.
Ethan Lowe’s conversion attempt from the sideline was unsuccessful and the score was 4-0 after 11 minutes.
With the Cowboys again pressing the Sharks’ line, Michael Morgan went to the air in search of a flying Winterstein. Chad Townsend however was ruled to have taken out a Cowboys player during the play and the visiting side were awarded a penalty.
Lowe took the attempted shot at goal however missed the shot from within striking distance and the score remained 4-0 to the Cowboys after 28 minutes.
The Sharks were able to work the ball into good attacking position and the ball fell in the hands of Chad Townsend on the last tackle. The half back looked up and put a grubber through for his right edge however the kick was too long and the Cowboys would have a seven tackle set.
From the ensuing set the Cowboys worked the ball up field and spread the ball to the right hand edge where they found space. Kyle Feldt received the ball out wide and was away.
The winger found Ben Hampton trailing on his inside and the number 14 crossed for the Cowboys second try of the night.
Feldt took over the kicking duties and made no mistake with the attempt, extending the Cowboys lead out to 10-0 after 34 minutes.
With the wind in their sails, the Cowboys continued to get on the front foot and pressure the Sharks defensive line. With the right edge baring fruit for the Cowboys, the visitors went to the air where Feldt flew high above Sosaia Feki to touch down for the North Queenslanders.
Feldt’s attempted conversion was unsuccessful and the teams hit the sheds with the Cowboys leading 14-0.
When both sides returned to the field, both sides continued to throw everything they had at each other.
The Sharks needed to hit back and hit back they did.
After receiving a penalty and making good metres up the field, the Sharks were within striking distance of the Cowboys line. James Maloney received the ball close to the Cowboys line, dummied to Wade Graham before piercing through the Cowboys line to go over for the Sharks first try of the night.
Maloney converted his own try to take the score to 14-6 after 50 minutes.
The Sharks weren’t playing pretty football however were making metres during the tough times.
Andrew Fifita was injected back into the game and made an immediate impact. Receiving the ball on the 40m line, Fifita broke through a number of would-be Cowboys tackles and looked to be on his way to the try line.
The front rower was about to be brought down before the line however found Chad Townsend looming on his inside and the Sharks half back went over for the Sharks’ second try of the night.
Maloney’s conversion was successful and the Cowboys lead was down to 14-12 with 17 minutes left on the clock.
The Sharks had all the momentum at this stage and the home crowd were right behind their team.
On the final tackle of the set, Lachlan Coote received the ball and looked to go to the air however Luke Lewis had other ideas, creaming the Cowboys fullback in what was a game changing play.
The Sharks would work the ball down their left edge and when Valentine Holmes found open space, he passed the ball to an unmarked Feki who would go over and get the Sharks into the lead.
Maloney’s kick from the sideline was never in doubt, going over and putting the Sharks in the lead 18-14 on the 68-minute mark.
From here, the match was the Sharks’ to lose.
The Sharks big-name players in Gallen, Fifita and Maloney all stood up in the last 10 minutes to ice the clock and guide the Sharks to victory.
The win was the Sharks’ second at home this year and is the first of five upcoming games at Southern Cross Group Stadium in succession.
Cronulla Sharks: 18 Maloney, Townsend, Feki try. Maloney 2/2 convs.
North Queensland Cowboys 14: Winterstein, Hampton, Feldt tries, Feldt 1/2, Lowe 0/1 convs.