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Cronulla Sharks' captain Paul Gallen produced another magnificent performance to help his side to a 20-14 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys in front of a 11364 crowd in Townsville tonight.
Gallen was on his game from the opening minutes of the match busting through the Cowboys' defence with his first hit up.
Gallen's bust ensured the Sharks were right on the attack at the end of their set, allowing Todd Carney to kick a penalty goal to open up the scoring when the Cowboys conceded a penalty on the fifth tackle.
Both sides struggled to hold onto the ball in the following passages of play, but what the Cowboys and Sharks lacked in ball handling skills, they made up for in defence, with players from both teams pulling off some try saving tackles.
There was no stopping Gavin Cooper in the 17th minute as he leapt above the pack to claim a Matt Bowen bomb and dive over to score. Johnathon Thurstan added the extras to give his side a four-point lead.
The home side began to take control the match on the back of the try with Bowen heavily involved in the Cowboys' attack. The dynamo fullback's created a try for Ashley Graham in the 23rd minute. Bowen threaded a grubber through the Sharks' defence to put Graham over.
James Segeyaro appeared to have extended the Cowboys' lead in the 35th minute, however replays revealed he had knocked the ball over the line.
It was John Morris who looked certain to have scored for the Sharks only a minute later, however, the referees-unhappy with his teammate Issac DeGois's involvement in the play- denied him the four-pointer.
There was no denying Andrew Fifita in the 38th minute. The Sharks' utility pounced on a Geff Robson grubber to score the Sharks' first try of the match. Carney added the extras to put the Sharks within in two-points of the Cowboys.
The Sharks stole the lead in the final seconds of the half with Ben Pomeroy racing down the western touchline courtesy of a Gallen offload and Carney bust. Carney added the extras to give the Sharks a four-point lead going into the break.
Some sloppy play from the Sharks following the break enabled the Cowboys to level the score early in the second half. This time Bowen went himself, burrowing through the Sharks' defense to score in the corner in the 44th minute. Thurston was unsuccessful with the conversion, keeping the scores level at 14 all.
The Cowboys were given several opportunities to take the lead, however, some desperate goal line defence from the Sharks and some crucial errors from the home side saw the Sharks survive six sets at their goal line within ten minutes.
The Sharks were rewarded for their hard work in the 73rd minute when Paul Gallen muscled his way over the try line and claimed the lead for the Sharks. Carney added the extras to extend the lead to six.
The home side were given a few late opportunities to even the score line, but the Sharks goal line defence held strong.
North Queensland Cowboys 14 were defeated by Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20
National Rugby League - Round 4 - Saturday March 24, 2012 9:30pm
Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium
Referee: Gerard Sutton and Tony De Las Heras
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall and Michael Wise
Halftime: North Queensland Cowboys 10 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14
North Queensland Cowboys (14)
Tries: Matt Bowen, Ashley Graham, Gavin Cooper
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (1/3)
Penalty Goals: Johnathan Thurston (0/1)
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks (20)
Tries: Paul Gallen, Ben Pomeroy, Andrew Fifita
Conversions: Todd Carney (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Todd Carney (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Join the conversation - follow LeagueUnlimited on Twitter and tweet about the match using the Official Hashtag = #NRLnqlcro.
You can also discuss the match with thousands of other fans in our Game Day Forums - click here. Good evening folks and welcome to Toyota Stadium where the North Queensland Cowboys take on the Cronulla Sharks. The Sharks have announced a few late change to their side. Bryce Gibbs is out and Paul Gallen will move to the front row to cover for him with Wade Graham coming of the bench and into the starting lock position. Sama Taagatese joins the Sharks' bench. The Cowboys are unchanged.
1 min: Paul Gallen takes the first hit up of the match.
1 min: The Sharks complete their first set 20 out from the Cowboys' line after a break from Paul Gallen. Todd Carney goes to the air and Anthony Winterstein diffuses it. However, the referee was playing the advantage and the Cowboys are pinned for taking an opposition player out of play.
2 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Sharks opt to go for the two and Todd Carney has no problem kicking the goal.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 2-0
5 min: Matt Scott loses the ball a few meters into the Sharks' half.
6 min: Robson goes to the air on the last and Anthony Winterstein has no problem diffusing it.
7 min: Bowen kicks a long grubber on the last and Gallen is there to clean up the ball but he knocks on and the Cowboys will get a scrum only 20 out from the Sharks' line.
8 min: The Cowboys receive a penalty and will get six more tackles.
9 min: Scott knocks on again and the Sharks are off the hook.
10 min: Paul Gallen dives on a loose ball only 10 meters out from the Cowboys line and the Sharks are on the attack.
11 min: Jeff Robson throws a pass to the ground on the last and the Cowboys manage to gain possession.
13 min: Sharks will receive a penalty five meters their side of halfway.
13 min: Colin Best loses the ball a meter out from the Cowboys' line.
15 min: Stewart Mills loses the ball only 15 out from his own line. The Cowboys will go right on the attack here.
16 min: Possible try to the Cowboys here.
18 min: TRY
TRY! Matt Bowen goes to the air on the last and Gavin Cooper leaps above the pack to take the ball and dive over to score. Johnathon Thurston adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 6-2
21 min: Best loses the ball 15 meters out from his own line. The Cowboys will go right on the attack.
24 min: TRY Northern Storm
TRY! Matthew Bowen grubbers to the in goal straight from dummy half a meter out and Ashley Graham grounds the ball in the corner. Thurston's conversion from the touchline is unsuccessful..
North Queensland Cowboys 10-2
25 min: Ray Thompson knocks on from the kick off and the Sharks will get an opportunity to hit back.
26 min: Jason Bukuya knocks and an opportunity goes begging for the Sharks.
28 min: Dallas Johnson loses the ball a few meters short of halfway and the Sharks will get some more good field position.
31 min: Cowboys will get a scrum 35 out from their own line after the Cowboys' defense places pressure on Robson and force an ordinary kick.
33 min: The Cowboys will receive a line dropout after trapping Mills in goal.
34 min: John Williams is forced to ground the ball in goal after a neat grubber from Johnathon Thurston.
35 min: Possible try to the Cowboys here!
35 min: NO TRY! James Segeyaro knocks the ball on over the line.
36 min: Possible try to the Sharks here!
36 min: No try! Double movement. Paul Gallen makes a break and offloads to Gardner who puts on some sneaky footwork before offloading to John Morris who takes three players with him over the line. However, the referee found a late shot on Nathan Gardener by Bowen who is on report.
39 min: TRY
TRY! Robson grubbers through and the kick hit the goal post and into the in goal, Thurston cannot clean it up and Andrew Fifita is there to score the try. Carney adds the extras.
North Queensland Cowboys 10-8
40 min: TRY
TRY! Todd Carney makes a half break down the right touchline and throws a pass which Thurston attempts to intercept, Thurston propels the ball forward and pemeroy is there to collect it and he runs 30 meters to score. Carney adds the extras.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14-10
41 min: Todd Carney kicks off to bring the second half underway.
43 min: The Sharks lose the ball ten meters from their own line and the Cowboys will go on the attack.
44 min: TRY
TRY! Bowen throws the dummy and then burrows through for a try. Thurston's conversion attempt is unsuccessful.
North Queensland Cowboys 14-14
44 min: Nathan Gardner is off the field with a concussion. Carney will shift into the fullback position with Graham moving into the halves.
46 min: Sharks come close to scoring a try on the back of great kick return from Carney and break from Pomeroy who send Williams away, however Williams steps into touch.
47 min: The Cowboys will get a full set of six 20 out from the Sharks' line.
48 min: The Sharks tackle Graham into touch and survive.
55 min: The Sharks are making some great meters here. They're finishing most of their sets deep in Cowboys' territory.
58 min: A late tackle on Thurston 40 out from the Sharks' sees the Cowboys receive a penalty.
58 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
The Cowboys opt to go for the two and the ball hits the post.
North Queensland Cowboys 14-14
59 min: Pomeroy loses the ball 25 meters out from his own line.
61 min: Thurston puts up a banana kick on the last and Issac De Gois is there to pluck it out of the air and save the day for the Sharks.
63 min: The Cowboys will get a line drop out after John Williams is forced to bat the ball dead.
64 min: Johnson knocks the ball on five meters out and the Sharks survive again.
65 min: The Cowboys receive a penalty on halfway after an illegal strip.
66 min: Joel Riethmuller loses the ball on only the second tackle and the Sharks survive again.
69 min: Sharks lose the ball a few meters out from their line.
70 min: The Sharks survive again with Thomspon being caught with the ball on the last.
71 min: The Sharks receive a relieving penalty and will get the ball on halfway,
74 min: TRY
TRY! Paul Gallen crashes over for the Sharks. Carney adds the extras.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20-14
76 min: The Cowboys will get the ball 40 out from their own line after Colin Best kicks out on the full.
77 min: Bowen kicks into the in goal on the third tackle and Mills has no trouble cleaning it up and running it back into the field of play.
79 min: The Cowboys will receive a line dropout with a minute and a half remaining.
80 min: The Sharks come up with a football a meter out from their own line after Kane Linnet's pass goes loose.
80 min: The Sharks put the ball into touch with a few seconds remaining and the Sharks have pulled off a stunning victory.