Five Key Points - Sharks v Cowboys

What were the big moments, the crucial plays, the best performers and the key points come from the Sharks v Cowboys match on Saturday. Here’s what we thought

1 Good things happen when you hold the ball
The second half against the Titans was littered with errors, as was the first 40 minutes when the Sharks faced the Cowboys. 

On Saturday a 10-error first half had helped the Cowboys take a 10-6 lead to the break, with the message likely a simple one from coach John Morris in the sheds at half time.

Hold the ball, complete some sets, put the opposition under pressure and some good things will happen.

Well that’s exactly what occurred. 

The Sharks were 100 per cent in good ball sets, as in when in an attacking field position, 80 per cent over all, and some good things certainly did happen, six second half tries seeing the Cronulla side record a comprehensive win.

They held the ball and plenty of good things certainly did take place in an impressive second half performance. 

 

2 A win, but a tough night for the skipper
It was meant to be a night for captan Paul Gallen to celebrate in playing a club record 329th game for the Cronulla club.

His father Garry presented his jersey in am emotional prelude, the milestone was much was spoken about in the lead up, with Gallen looking to make his mark on the game.

It was the Gallen we’ve become accustomed to in the early exchanges, his workload was high, then an off-load from the skipper resulted in the Sharks first try, scored by Chad Townsend.

But unfortunately his night was cut short by a rib injury which forced him off in just the 23rd minute of the first half, a problem becoming worse when he started cooling down, with Gallen unable to return.

Despite missing their inspirational leader the Sharks dug in, turned on a spectacular second 40 minutes and got the result in emphatic fashion. 

Not one to get too carried away with his milestone matches, all Gallen really wanted was a win and that’s what his team delivered.

It was a tough night for the skipper, but in bringing home the points he got what he really wanted most from his record-breaking day.

 

3 The Brothers Brailey
Much has been written and said about the Brailey brothers, Jayden and Blayke the Sharks hooking duo currently impressing all with their play at dummy half.

Jayden started the game against the Cowboys, handing in a typical hard-working effort, his 33-tackles a game-high for his team, with a line break, two try assists and 55 running metres indicating a strong all round performance. 

With the Sharks holding a narrow two-point lead early in the second half Brailey found space and sliced through, laying on the Townsend try, a four-pointer which broke the resolve of the North Queensland side.

In the humid conditions, Jayden got through 65-minutes before being substituted by Blayke, the younger sibling bringing energy and a slick service from dummy half, his efforts rewarded late in the contest when he accepted a Matt Prior off-load to score his first NRL try.

But it was then a Brailey double act for the final 11 minutes when injury disrupted the Sharks line up, Jayden was thrown back on to play lock and to tie up the middle of the field defensively, as Blayke continued at dummy half.

The brothers Brailey again steered the Sharks ship in a partnership that might be here to stay in 2019. 

 

4 Injuries to test Sharks depth 
It was a good night for the Sharks on the scoreboard, but in the medical room in the 1300SMILES away dressing rooms the news wasn't so positive, with a couple of key injuries set to test the Club’s depth in the coming weeks. 

Skipper Gallen was talking a good game shortly after full time, expressing that while he was sore and sorry with a rib problem, he was hopeful it wouldn't be a long-term issue. 

Fullback Matt Moylan was another story. Feeling a pop in his hamstring late in the contest, Moylan and Sharks medical staff won’t be certain as to the severity of his injury until scans are conducted on Sunday evening or Monday morning. 

With potentially both Gallen and Moylan missing from the side to play the Eels, the Sharks will need to come up with a couple of suitable replacements. 

Young lock Jack Williams was outstanding against the Cowboys, his power with the football in hand and aggression in defence suggesting he has put himself in the frame to wear the 13 jersey. The ever-reliable Jayson Bukuya is another option and youngster Billy Magoulias is waiting in the wings for his opportunity. 

As for a possible Sharks number one, Josh Dugan is a highly credentialed fullback who would relish the chance to fill the role while Moylan recovers. And that leaves a centre position open, giving coach Morris the decision whether or not to unleash the highly rated Bronson Xerri, 

Stay tuned for the team announcement on Tuesday. 

 

5 The jersey looking good
First it was Ace Gutters Durakote becoming the major jersey sponsor, now two more corporate partners have jumped on board, adding their branding to the Sharks NRL jersey in throwing their support behind the Cronulla club.

When the Sharks ran out on Saturday night in Townsville it was hard to miss the distinctive yellow branding of TFH Hire Services on the sleeve, a Queensland-based company specialising in the hiring of fencing, event flooring, portable toilets and more to a wide range of Australian and international businesses. 

Equally significant was the logo of PointsBet in the sternum position on the jersey, a new player in the sports wagering business, with both brands displaying great faith in choosing the Sharks as a corporate partner. 

And watch this space for another major sponsorship announcement coming soon. 

Some say the Sharks are the most resilient brand in the NRL and despite some off-season turmoil, two wins from three is a solid start on the field and the backing of companies such as TFH and PointsBet indicates things are heading in the right direction off the field as well.