Sharks smash Cowboys with sizzling second half

A sizzling second half, where the Sharks scored six tries and piled on 36 points, has seen them crush the Cowboys by 42-16 at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville. 

A scrappy first half was almost forgotten with the turnaround after the break, as the Sharks forwards dominated in the middle, created space for their playmakers, with the outside backs the beneficiaries. 

It was a win that makes it two from three for a Sharks side that will get plenty of confidence from their efforts in the second 40 minutes. 

The Cowboys had two early tries denied, the first when Josh McGuire was in front of the kicker, the second after a Jordan Kahu knock on in contesting a high ball, but as is often the case they were left to rue the missed opportunities with the Sharks going down the opposite end and posting first points.

Following two repeat sets then a Cowboys error coming off their own line, a Gallen off-load saw half back Chad Townsend reach out to score adjacent to the uprights and when Shaun Johnson converted it was 6-0 Sharks after 15 minutes. 

With mistakes plaguing the Sharks game for the third week in a row the momentum shifted in favour of their opponents and after surviving consecutive sets on their goal line eventually they would crack, Jordan McLean crashing over for his teams first points. 

Kahu added the extras and it was 6-all with 30 minutes gone.

Another dropped ball when deep in North Queensland territory, followed by an off-side penalty and the Cowboys worked their way into an attacking zone. On the last tackle Sosaia Feki, who had earlier been outstanding in defusing a couple of tricky kicks, couldn't grasp the ball and fullback Te Marie Martin would pounce for the home sides’ second of the afternoon. 

From a difficult angle Kahu was unable to convert but the Cowboys would take a narrow 10-6 lead to half time.

There would have been little doubt as to the topic of John Morris’s half time address, with the Sharks making 10 errors in the first 40 and completing at just 60 per cent. 

Adding to the Sharks problems came the news that skipper Gallen, in his record-breaking 329th game, would be unable to return due to a rib injury. 

However, whatever was said in the sheds had immediate effect, following a strong opening six tackles it was young gun Briton Nikora showing great determination, winning the race to a Johnson kick then touching down inches from the dead ball line. 

Johnson was on target with his kick and the Sharks had retaken the lead at 12-10. 

Now with a spring in their step the Sharks moved back down field and they would extend their advantage, hooker Jayden Brailey exploiting a gap around the Cowboy ruck before finding Townsend in support, with the half back running 20-metres to score his second. 

Johnson kept his perfect record intact with the boot and the Sharks were up eight at 18-10 just nine minutes into the second period. 

And the points would continue to flow, Josh Morris making a long break down the left, before being the man on the spot soon after, pouncing on a Johnson kick to push the Sharks lead out further. 

Johnson kicked his fifth from five attempts and it was 24-10 Sharks with 28 minutes still remaining. 

A shell-shocked Cowboys outfit were now finding it difficult to compete, Townsend collecting a loose ball and running 50-metres into opposition territory, then it was Dugan crashing over off a well-timed Brailey pass. 

The Johnson goal made it 30-10 but the Sharks were far from done.  

A Michael Morgan kick sailed out on the full following excellent pressure applied by Brailey and with field position once more in their favour, the Sharks would score, Morris barging over from close range to also make it two tries for the night and with the Johnson conversion, the game was as good as over at 36-10 with only a quarter of the match to go.

After a Sharks handling error, then a high tackle penalty, the Cowboys would strike, Gavin Cooper running into yawning gap off a Morgan off-load but it would be as close as North Queensland would get.

A hamstring injury to Matt Moylan saw the Sharks structures disrupted with 11 to go, with Dugan moving to fullback and Capewell into the centres however despite the adversity the result was soon put to bed when Blayke Brailey accepted a short ball from Matt Prior, before diving over for his first NRL try. 

It was a outstanding second half with the Sharks holding the ball, building pressure and completely steamrolling their opponents in recording their second win of the season. 

Following a messy first half aside, Morris would have been extremely satisfied with what he saw in the second, with the Sharks looking slick in posting six tries and 36 points, giving them confidence for the weeks ahead. 

For the Sharks Townsend, Jayden Brailey, Dugan and Morris had big second halves, as did Johnson who was both threatening and controlled. 

Nikora in just his third game again showed his unlimited potential, as did fellow youngster Jack Williams who ran strongly and defended with aggression. 

The Sharks now have a week to assess their injured players and get ready for the Eels, with the game scheduled for ANZ Stadium next Saturday night. 

 

SHARKS 42
Chad Townsend 2, Josh Morris 2, Briton Nikora, Josh Dugan, Blayke Brailey tries, Shaun Johnson 7 goals
beat
COWBOYS 16
Te Marie Martin, Jordan McLean, Gavin Cooper tries, Jordan Kahu 2 goals