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Sharks vs Cowboys
NRL, 10 September, 2017
|Fulltime - Sharks 14, Cowboys 15|
|Referee: Ashley Klein|
|Touch judges: Michael Wise & Clayton Sharpe|
|Video Referee: Bernard Sutton|
The North Queensland Cowboys, despite not leading until the 85th minute, have won an extra time classic over the Cronulla Sharks after a Michael Morgan field goal.
Cronulla Sharks 14
North Queensland Cowboys 15
Reigning premiers the Cronulla Sharks will go into their elimination final as red-hot favourites, but standing in their way are the always brave North Queensland Cowboys. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 4:10pm (AEST).
While the Sharks are always there and abouts, the Cowboys have had to fight every step of the way in the run to the finals. They snuck into the top eight, holding their spot with the Dragons losing to the Bulldogs in the final round.
Brave is the word used to describe North Queensland’s season. No Johnathan Thurston and no Matt Scott hurt them, but they have had a slew of other injuries throughout the season, particularly over the last two months.
A gutsy comeback win against the Tigers in Round 25 helped their retain their spot, and while they lost to the Broncos in Round 26, this is a side who have worked hard every step of the way.
They have had to fight for wins, their forwards have stood up when it’s counted most. Jason Taumalolo, who has averaged more than 200 metres per game has led from the front, and been backed up well by Scott Bolton, Gavin Cooper and John Asiata throughout.
Along with their bench forwards, who have been led in recent weeks by veteran Shaun Fensom, the whole pack must be at the top of their game.
If there’s one thing you know you’ll get from the Sharks, it’s a grinding, gritty sort of game. Andre Fifita, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham and Paul Gallen will make sure of it. They will ensure it’s low-scoring and played through the middle third of the field.
The problem for the Sharks, who missed out on a top four spot, finishing fourth is that they have looked fatigued, and the form of James Maloney has been inconsistent at best.
Maloney has been trying to force plays, and it’s led to the Sharks having to do more defence than they otherwise would have in most games this season. If he and Chad Townsend can’t control things, then it’ll bring the Cowboys big pack right into this game.
Despite that, the Sharks have other attacking weapons. Graham and Lewis themselves have both been in good form, while young gun Valentine Holmes is a sensational runner of the ball at the back.
The Sharks haven’t been setting the world on fire, but the Cowboys simply won’t have the petrol to go with Cronulla. Their injuries have caught up with them, and they will be knocked out in a close one.
Sharks by 4.
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