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Five Key Points - Sharks v Cowboys

1 Close but no record
The Sharks single-season try scoring record, which has stood since 1999, was in some serious threat on Saturday night.

Valentine Holmes had scored his 19th the week before in the win over the Storm, equalling a mark he jointly held with David Peachey, with Sharks fans optimistic a 20th touchdown was on the way in the match against the Cowboys.

Holmes made a line break midway through the first half, swerved left and headed for the line, only to be dragged down by the cover defence.

Previous to that the Sharks number one strolled over - here was a new record, finally - only for the Bunker to rule an obstruction in the lead up.

Then in the second half Holmes dashed away, surely this time it would happen, but he was stopped within a metre of the try line. The Sharks scored shortly after to seal the win.

Holmes was outstanding for the Sharks, but despite his sparkling attacking play, he couldn't get over the line.

Close, but no cigar, or at least no record. Not yet anyway.

2 When passion spills over
With Andrew Fifita, what you see is what you get.

A passionate and competitive player who does whatever he can to get a result for his team.

The Grand Final try and the determination it took to get the ball down over the line in that amazing moment was a classic example of what he is capable of.

On Saturday night that passion came rushing to the surface when Fifita crashed over to seemingly seal victory for the Sharks.

Having been benched, a little too early for his liking, before then coming back on late in the match, Fifita gestured towards the sideline after supposedly getting a half time rev up from Sharks coaching staff.

But once the full-time siren had sounded, for Fifita it was all forgotten as he joked about his outburst in a media interview. Contrary to speculation, he wasn't told what to say by the Sharks media manager, with Fifita merely pre-warned as to the line of questioning he could expect in the Fox interview.

Shane Flanagan said at the press conference if that was what it took to get the best out of Fifita they might make a habit of the half time pep talk.

Fifita's passion certainly spilled over, but that is a part of what makes him the unstoppable force that can change a game, and win a premiership.

3 Townsend on song
The number seven on any team is often the player under the most pressure. As the saying goes, the halfback owns the result.

Well if that is the case, the plaudits for the win over the Cowboys should be directed firmly in the direction of Chad Townsend.

The Sharks number seven responded after a few weeks where social media chatter questioned his form, with Townsend outstanding in the win over North Queensland.

He laid on the first four-pointer for Luke Lewis, his kicking game was on point and an individual try in the second half tipped the momentum back in favour of his team.

Townsend was on song on Saturday night and his return to top form is a good sign with the big games that lie ahead.

4 War of attrition
To lose one centre is a major disruption to the interchange rotation, not to mention the game plan. To lose two during the course of a game could have disastrous consequences.

When Jesse Ramien limped off with an ankle injury just 18 minutes into the first half, luckily the Sharks had a ready-made replacement in the capable Kurt Capewell to fill the void.

On the bench as a forward back up, Capewell would play 62 minutes at right centre.

Then Ricky Leutele succumbs to a knee injury six minutes after the break and the Sharks are forced to find another outside back with almost a full half of football left to play.

Luke Lewis shifted out one in the defensive line, Joseph Paulo played as an edge backrower, Josh Dugan would occasionally push in and carry some of the load, then towards the end of the game Jayson Bukuya was forced onto the wing when Sosaia Feki came off for a head injury assessment.

Considering such a serious reshuffle was necessary, the Sharks did an excellent job in holding Jonathan Thurston and co in check, while creating enough offence to score the necessary points to claim a win.

It became a war of attrition with the injuries in the backline, with the versatility the in the ranks and the resilience shown under duress certain to give the Sharks plenty of confidence going forward.

5 Chicko's got time to give
At the beginning of 2018, James Segeyaro was being given 15-20 minutes of game time at the back end of matches as a substitute for Jayden Brailey.

As the season progressed, Segeyaro's time increased to where in recent weeks he was coming on with 10-minutes of the first half remaining, before playing out the rest of the match.

Then on Saturday night, the talented hooker was called upon to start in the absence of Brailey, then with injuries affecting other positions, was asked to play the entire 80-minutes.

And he did it with plenty of energy, attitude and skill, Segeyaro topping the tackle count, while having two line break assists and two try assists with his clever play out of dummy half.

It was Segeyaro's flat face-ball to Fifita that put the big fella over next to the posts in pretty much securing the win.

Next week Brailey will return and it will be business as usual and likely back to plan A, but 'Chicko' showed he's got a big engine and time to give if and when needed.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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