Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
98 mins ago
Rise for Alex round has started with The North Queensland Cowboys scoring a 36-18 victory at an emotionally charged Remondis Stadium.
Rise For Alex round started off on a touching yet sombre start with both sides paying tribute side by side to Alex McKinnon before marking a minutes silence to remember the 298 people (including 28 Australians), who sadly lost their lives in the loss of flight MH17.
The next set wasn't a lot better for the man known as Flash when another kick from the Cowboys was knocked on, luckily for Gordon in the process of scoring the try, Rory Kostjasyn was ruled to have gone into touch in the process of grounding the ball.
The pressure wasn't off for the Sharks because in the ensuing set, Johnathan Thurston showed his class with a dummy which opened up the defence and he darted through to take the lead out to 10-0 after just 5 minutes.
For the next 18 minutes the attack slowed down but the referees whistle didn't stop with a seamless end of penalties coming from the men in pink with 9 penalties coming within as many minutes.
The run of penalties was stopped when some excellent work by the Cowboys set up an overlap and it was Antonio Winterstein who was the beneficiary of free space to the line and following the JT conversion from the sideline the Cowboys lead 16-0.
That was the end of the scoring from the Cowboys in the first half but the penalties kept coming and with each penalty the Sharks got more and more momentum and they managed back to back tries first through Jono Wright then through Luke Lewis to bring the score back to 16-12 after the conversion.
The second half started as a mirror image to the first half with back to back errors against the Cowboys as well as a run of 4 straight penalties to the Visitors.
The Cowboys opening points of the second half came through a JT penalty goal to stretch the lead out to 18-12, this was followed up by a try out of nowhere by the "Plasticine man" Michael Morgan who managed to keep himself going and stretch out with elastic arms to score under the posts. Soon after Glenn Hall scored another try under the posts to extend the lead out to 18 following JT's easy conversion.
The regular Video Referee controversy raised its head again after Johnathan Thurston was awarded a try by the Video Referees despite a clear case of a 2 on 1 strip after a player dropped off the tackle, this confused fans and Sharks players considering this rule is enforced in almost every match played in a weekend.
It didn't change the result of the match, but nonetheless the Sharks were unhappy with the call but ultimately they got the last laugh when they scored through Michael Gordon to bring the score back to 36-18.
Next weekend, the Sharks make the trip over the Blue Mountains when they take on the Penrith Panthers at Carrington Park in Bathurst next Saturday afternoon, meanwhile the Cowboys take on the Canterbury Bulldogs next Saturday night.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (36)
Tries: Tariq Sims, Johnathan Thurston (2), Antonio Winterstein, Michael Morgan, Glenn Hall
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (5/6)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (1/1)
Just to clarify the Cowboys are as named on Tuesday, Johnathan Thurston wears jersey 16, Bench numbers are 14,15,17,18
Players entering Remondis Stadium side by side as fans rise for Alex
3: VIDEO REFEREE: Off to the colonel we go again at Remondis, Checking a possible Rory Kostjasyn try - referee says TRY
9: PENALTY SHARKS: Sharks get the first penalty inside the Cowboys 10m, they tap and go
10: Cowboys get six again after Andrew Fifita regathered a stripped ball
11: Sharks force a line dropout but then end up conceding 75m when the ball bounces badly for them
13: A ring of cheers goes round Shark Park when Michael Gordon managed to cleanly take a kick
13: PENALTY SHARKS: Sharks get the penalty just short of halfway to put them back on the attack, Penalty count 2-0 in favour of the Sharks
15: PENALTY SHARKS: A third penalty for the Sharks this time against Kane Linnett for having a hand on the ball
17: PENALTY COWBOYS: Cowboys get their first penalty of the night with the Sharks penalised for not leaving the ruck
17: Ashton Sims ON REPORT for a nasty looking (though contact is around the shoulders) high tackle
18: Andrew Fifita down injured - Possible high tackle
20: Another penalty to the Sharks their sixth - A second warning to Johnathan Thurston
21: PENALTY COWBOYS: The EIGHTH penalty of the night
21: Make that 9 penalties tonight - Cowboys get their third of the night
23: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Antonio Winterstein. Kick to come.
Repeat pressure from the penalties - is too much for the Sharks and an excellent Jason Taumalolo decoy creates a 3 on 2 overlap and Antonio Winterstein scores out in the corner
29: Well its been 5 minutes since Gavin Morris has blown a penalty and thats obviously too long with the tenth (fourth for the cowboys) penalty of the half
31: Sosaia Feki takes a good catch ingoal and goes out to the 20m to get some relief for the Sharks defence
38: ANOTHER PENALTY - this time for the Sharks their EIGHTH of the game
40: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Michael Gordon has no problems converting the try & with that kick he brings up the 1000 career points
41: Second half underway at Remondis Stadium - Sharks with the breeze behind their backs defending the Southern end of the ground
44: PENALTY COWBOYS: Cowboys get the first penalty of the second half & their fifth of the match, Sharks ruled to be offside
46: Cowboys force a repeat set through a JT kick, dropout goes 45m on the full
48: PENALTY COWBOYS: Tim Robinson penalised for a second effort in the ruck & the Cowboys will go for 2
50: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Penalty goal attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
JT takes an easy shot at penalty goal & converts from close range
51: PENALTY COWBOYS: Strips don't come as obvious as that & there's the third penalty of the half to the Cowboys, Penalty count now up to 8-7
51: PENALTY COWBOYS: Another penalty to the Cowboys bring the count all square to 8-8
52: Well that didn't go well for the Cowboys - Possible obstruction in the lead up, Forward Pass & the ball ended up in touch, Sharks with a 10m scrum
54: Cowboys come away with the ball after Robert Lui somehow comes up with it
54: Michael Morgan puts a kick through and gets a repeat set for the Cowboys
55: Michael Morgan is tackled short..... wait he may have got this down for a try, upstairs we go
55: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Michael Morgan. Kick to come.
That comes from nowhere, Michael Morgan on his hands and knees keeps pushing to the live and "the plasticine man" stretches out to score
59: A good kick from the Sharks forces Michael Morgan to take a catch on an awkward bounce then gets out of the ingoal in the face of 3 defenders
61: Sharks go high on the kick and some good work by the Cowboys and they go 60m downfield
63: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Glenn Hall. Kick to come.
The Sharks defence stretches to breaking point & its a short ball from dummy half by Ray Thompson to Glenn Hall that puts him in under the sticks
65: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
No surprises JT converts it from in front
66: PENALTY SHARKS: Its been a while since a penalty, and the Sharks get the 17th of the match & their 9th
67: TRY NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Scored by Johnathan Thurston. Kick to come.
Well the decision was overturned - not sure how it was but it was and JT gets the try
69: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful.
JT converts his own try
73: PENALTY SHARKS: Sharks get their 10th penalty of the night, 18th overall
74: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Michael Gordon. Kick to come.
Michael Lichaa dashes from dummy half then some good hands from Lichaa to Robson to Michael Gordon gives the Sharks their third of the night
76: PENALTY SHARKS: Sharks get a penalty for a ruck infringement - Penalty count out to 11-8
77: UNFORCED ERROR CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Jonathan Wright makes an unforced error.
Jono Wright does a magic act, tiptoes the sideline whilst juggling the ball but it ends up going out
80: FULL TIME at Remondis Stadium - Nth Qld Cowboys have scored a 36-18 win over the Cronulla Sharks