Injury-decimated Cowboys hang tough but fall to Sharks

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

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    The Cronulla Sharks have picked up an uninspiring victory over an injury-decimated North Queensland Cowboys outfit by ten points to keep themselves planted in the top four with two rounds to play.

    North Queensland, already missing Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott for the season were dealt another blow in the lead-up to kick-off, losing Lachlan Coote. Add that to injuries last week, and with the exception of John Asiata, the bench had two debutants and one game of first-grade experience between them.

    The Cowboys though, even before the injuries started striking let in some early soft tries, with the Sharks ahead of the clock at one point.

    Jayden Brailey was the first to score for the Sharks, taking on the line with ease before James Maloney sent Paul Gallen in under the posts just five minutes later.

    Maloney played a superb first half, guiding the Sharks around the park as they racked up four tries and an 18-point lead at the break.

    A period where the Sharks dominated, but couldn’t find their way over the line followed, only to be broken up by a Cowboys attacking raid which saw Te Maire Martin latch onto a Michael Morgan grubber kick.

    Chad Townsend and Valentine Holmes were the other two men to score for the Sharks before the break, again with far too much ease. Townsend simply stepped at the line, before Holmes ran onto an inside pass from Maloney.

    In the lead-up to halftime, Morgan was taken from the field for a head injury assessment, returning during the second half, however they lost more troops after the break. Kalyn Ponga was the first to fall to a shoulder injury, with John Asiata suffering a suspected broken arm soon after.

    Jason Taumalolo also ended up on the sidelines, returning late in the game, with the Sharks simply unable to make them pay. Despite a glut of possession and penalties, Cronulla only managed to register a penalty goal in the second half as the Cowboys desperately clung on.

    It was inspiring from the Cowboys, who stood up with their backs to the wall and they will look to draw on that next weekend against the Wests Tigers in what shapes as an almost must-win game if they are to hold their spot in the top eight.

    A pair of consolation tries to Ethan Lowe and Michael Morgan kept scoreboard respectable, but an uninspiring win for the Sharks raises more questions than answers in the run to the finals.

    Final score

    North Queensland Cowboys 16
    Cronulla Sharks 26

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    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.

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