Sharks hang on to defeat flat footed Cowboys

Match Summary The Cronulla Sharks have withstood a late charge from the North Queensland Cowboys to score a 24-18 victory in Townsville tonight.

The match saw players from both sides backing up after last night's Centenary Test.

The Sharks opened their account after just four minutes with fullback Brett Kearney scoring out wide. The visitors continued to dominate with forward Fraser Anderson crashing over six minutes later. Winger Luke Covell was unable to covert and the Sharks held a handy 10-0 lead after a dozen minutes.

The Cowboys overcame their lethargic start to strike back in the 26th minute with winger Mark Henry scoring in the corner. Halfback Johnathan Thurston converted to make it 10-6.

But the Sharks stepped up to score two easy tries just before half time, forwards Luke Douglas and Paul Gallen crashing over some back-peddling defenders to set up a 22-6 lead at the break.

A penalty goal in the 46th minute extended the Sharks lead to 24-6, giving the Cowboys a mountain to climb.

But the Cowboys made a game of it with tries to forwards Carl Webb and Luke O'Donnell in the 67th and 69th minutes, setting up a grand stand finish with the home side trailing by just six points.

The Sharks however, were able to hang on to post a deserving win and deliver the Cowboys their third consecutive loss.

Match Details Cronulla Sharks 24 def North Queensland Cowboys 18 Round 9 - May 10th, 2008 7:30pm Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Sharks 22-6 Crowd: 17,065

North Queensland Cowboys 18 Tries: Mark Henry, Carl Webb, Luke O'Donnell Goals: Johnathan Thurston (3/3) Cronulla Sharks 24 Tries: Brett Kearney, Fraser Anderson, Luke Douglas, Paul Gallen Field Goals: Brett Kimmorley (0/1) Goals: Luke Covell (4/5) Player of the Match 3 Points: Greg Bird (Sharks) 2 Points: Brett Kimmorley (Sharks) 1 Point: Paul Gallen (Sharks) Live Commentary Second rower Paul Gallen and lock Greg Bird backing up for the Sharks after last night's Centenary Test match. The Cowboys playing at home and the big news is that halfback Johnathon Thurston is also backing up after last night and forward Luke O'Donnell is returning after being sidelined. Cowboys will be without fullback Matt Bowen. Perfect conditions for rugby league. Players getting ready to come onto the field. Sharks kick off and the match is underway!

4 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Simple stuff for fullback Brett Kearney scoring in the corner after some lead up from Greg Bird working down the blind side. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell is a ripper. Cronulla Sharks 6-0

6 min: 40/20 - Halfback Brett Kimmorley kicks downfield and the Sharks are on the attack again.

10 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Forward Fraser Anderson crashes over 12m wide of the posts. Set up by Kimmorley who ran at the line to create the gap for his supports. Follows an error from the Cowboys, on the wrong side of heavy possession flow. Conversion attempt unsuccessful, Covell misses an easy one. Cronulla Sharks 10-0

25 min: Cowboys get some ball and attack the Sharks' line. But a poor kick on the last hands over possession. Top class defence from the Sharks.

26 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Winger Mark Henry scores in the corner following a turnover of possession. Johnathan Thurston setting up his outside men. Video ref gives it a green light after looking at decoy runners for a possible obstruction. Never a problem. Conversion attempt by Thurston successful from out wide. Cronulla Sharks 10-6

32 min: Sharks making mistakes and the Cowboys hitting the Sharks line from close range. But they seem to have no real sting in their attack and can thank some poor play from the Sharks for putting a stopper on the possession flow.

36 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Big Luke Douglas runs over the top of Cowboys fullback Ashley Graham to score under posts. Simple play with an inside pass from Kimmorley finding Douglas on the burst. Conversion attempt by Covell successful. Cronulla Sharks 16-6

39 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Paul Gallen forces his way through from dummy half to touch down on the line, a move he almost telegraphed to a lazy goal line defence. Conversion attempt right in front by Covell is successful. Cronulla Sharks 22-6

Halftime: Sharks 22-6 Sharks barely getting out of second gear to finish well on top after the first 40 minutes. Cowboys with all the work to do in both defence and attack. Sharks enjoying 57% possession.

Second half underway...

41 min: INJURY - Cowboys five eighth Travis Burns to the sideline with what looks like a shoulder injury. Cowboys playing with 12 men while Burns is being looked at.

43 min: Burns stays on the field and the Sharks direct their attack at him. Cowboys eventually forced into a line drop out, Burns forced off the field and is replaced.

46 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sharks Penalty 10m out and 10m wide of the posts after Kimmorley cops a high clip. Covell makes no mistake. Cronulla Sharks 24-6

55 min: Sharks marched 10m for excessive backchat to the ref. Dustin Cooper giving the Cowboys a sniff. Sharks defence holds.

60 min: More strong goal line defence from the Sharks who are dominating, but they are being helped with the Cowboys lacking intensity and organisation close to the ruck.

67 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Prop Carl Webb scores 10m in from touch after the Sharks defence opens up from close range. Follows some classy lead up work from Thurston and a penalty against the Sharks. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. Cronulla Sharks 24-12

69 min: Video ref looking at possible TRY to Cowboys... VERDICT...

69 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Forward Luke O'Donnell catches a towering bomb from Thurston, juggles the ball, and manages to get it over the line. Benefit of the doubt given by video ref Phil Cooley. Conversion attempt from almost in front by Thurston is successful, and its game on! Cronulla Sharks 24-18

74 min: Cowboys with the ball deep in their own half.

75 min: ATTEMPTED FIELD GOAL Cronulla Sharks Kimmorley from over 30m out pushes it wide. Cronulla Sharks 24-18

76 min: Cowboys on the attack but Thurston kicks when he should have had a run and the Sharks are off the hook.

79 min: Final minute of play and the Cowboys have a scrum feed 20m out from their own line. They have 80m to go in 60 seconds.

Full time: Sharks 24-18 Sharks hanging on in the end after dominating the first half. Cowboys had an impressive comeback in the back-end of the match but were too flat when it counted. A late charge led by halfback Johnathan Thurston proved to be too little, too late. For the Sharks, Greg Bird, Paul Gallen and Danny Nutley were standouts in the pack while halfback Brett Kimmorley marshalled his troops well in setting up a handy half time lead.