Cronulla Sharks vs North Queensland Cowboys highlights: NRL live scores, blog

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    Sharks vs Cowboys

    NRL, 18 May, 2017

    Southern Cross Group Stadium
    Fulltime - Sharks 18, Cowboys 14
    Sharks   Cowboys
    18 FINAL SCORE 14
    3 TRIES 3
    Referee: Ashley Klein
    Touch judges: Nick Beashel & Chris Sutton
    Video Referee: Bernard Sutton

    The Cronulla Sharks might be winning, but they haven’t been anywhere near their best and that will need to change when they play a fast-improving North Queensland Cowboys outfit. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:50pm (AEST).

    There is no question the Sharks have been below their best throughout 2017, yet worryingly for the rest of the competition, they still sit in second place on the ladder.

    It leaves them behind only the Melbourne Storm with a record of seven wins and three losses. The reigning premiers have played well when they needed to and it could be argued their only complete performance was away from home against the Storm.

    They beat the St George-Illawarra Dragons last weekend with a couple of late tries, but again the Sharks struggled for ball control, making 14 errors and completing just 23 of 34 sets.

    The Sharks defence has been their strongest suit this season and it’s no surprise they have the best record in the competition. Poor execution in attack is where Cronulla have struggled, and if that starts flowing they may well be close to unbeatable.

    While it’s a credit to Shane Flanagan’s side that they came away with victory last week despite their inconsistency, Cronulla are not playing fantastically and they may get caught out against a Cowboys side who went from terrible to fantastic last week.

    It did help they were playing a very poor Canterbury Bulldogs outfit with fullback Lachlan Coote and hooker Jake Granville returning to the side.

    Before that match, I wrote about how they would take pressure off an out-of-form Michael Morgan, and that’s exactly what happened. Morgan had his best game of the season, while Coote and Granville made an immediate difference to the Cowboys’ attack.

    While the Sharks will produce a different defensive effort to Canterbury and the Cowboys are still likely to be without Johnathan Thurston, they will be buoyed by their 14-point victory as well as a need to keep winning before Origin given Paul Green’s side sit in sixth place with six wins from ten.

    Another victory here should push them ahead of the chasing pack and lock down their spot in the top eight before the Origin window begins and the Cowboys lose some high-quality players.

    The big question is whether Thurston will play. It’s unlikely, but he wasn’t cut from the reserves list 24 hours before the game and has travelled to Sydney with the team.

    If he does play, you would have to think he will be underdone. Thurston doesn’t put in many bad performances, but a tough Cronulla defence could bring one out of him.

    The Sharks have risen when needed this year and should pick up a tough win at home.

    Sharks by 4.

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    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.