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Johnathan Thurston threw away any notions of being out of form to lead his team to a comprehensive victory over the Sharks.
The two teams felt each other out early on with the conditions proving to be perfect for an open game, but David Simmons and Shannon Hegarty found each of their attempts for the line stopped out wide by staunch defence.
The Sharks kept the pressure on though and Matthew Wright found himself scoring the opening try after being denied earlier. Cronulla took a 4-0 lead as the two teams started to loosen up.
The match then broke out into a real scrap as neither team could really finish off their sets to gain an advantage until Johnathan Thurston chimed in. Thurston chipped beautifully for Shannon Hegarty to ground the ball to claim his team's first try. Thurston again showed some more sublime kicking with a brilliant conversion from the sideline to give his team a 6-4 lead going into the break.
The Cowboys only grew as they finally found their rhythm in the secondhalf; a try to a rampaging Luke O'Donnell adding to their advantage at 12-4.
Johnathan Thurston again used his boot to do the talking with a well-timed 40/20 giving his team perfect field position to launch another raid.
The little men again did the damage but this time it was Aaron Payne running out of dummyhalf and linking with Willie Tonga to hurt the Sharks. Thurston added his third conversion to give the Cowboys an 18-4 lead.
Cronulla hadn't given up. Ben Pomeroy showed some slick skills to send Anthony Tupou over shortly after to lessen the Cowboys' breathing space. Luke Covell added his only conversion to bring the score to 18-10.
The Sharks again went close with Luke Covell looking like he had gone through but were called back for obstruction.
From then on it was all the Cowboys as Thurston and Bowen turned it on and terrorised the Sharks. The Cowboys strangled the Sharks and kept them in their own half for the next 10 minutes. Thurston kicked ahead again for young replacement Blake Ferguson to clean up at the back but an awkward bounce found an eager Ben Farrar who gave the Cowboys a 22-10 lead.
The forwards then combined with the backs to ensure the Cowboys victory. A try from Matt Bowen off an offload from Scott Bolton gave the Sharks a tall ladder to climb and then a pass from Thurston found Shane Tronc who bustled his way over for a try and a 24 point lead.
The Sharks again tried to counterattack but the Cowboys completely shut them down with some aggressive defence and were throughly deserved of their 34-10 victory.
Match Details North Queensland Cowboys 34 def Cronulla Sharks 10 Round 6 - Sunday, April 19th, 2009 2:00pm Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide Referee: Ashley Klein & Chris James Sideline Officials: Peter Kirby & Mohamad Fajajo Video Referee: Tim Mander Crowd: 8 500 Half Time: Sharks 4 Cowboys 6
Cronulla Sharks 10 Tries: Matthew Wright, Anthony Tupou Goals: Luke Covell (1/2) North Queensland Cowboys 34 Tries: Shannon Hegarty, Luke O'Donnell, Willie Tonga, Ben Farrar, Matt Bowen, Shane Tronc Goals: Johnathan Thurston (5/6)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) 2 Points: Matt Bowen (Cowboys) 1 Point: Luke O'Donnell (Cowboys)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
SHARKS: 1. Mitch Brown 2. David Simmons 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. Matthew Wright 5. Luke Covell 6. Trent Barrett (c) 7. Brett Seymour 8. Kade Snowden 9. Corey Hughes 10. Luke Douglas 11. Reece Williams 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Reni Maitua Interchange: 14. Ian Donnelly 15. Bryan Norrie 16. Blake Ferguson 17. Terence Seu Seu
COWBOYS: 1. Matt Bowen 2. Ben Farrar 3. Ashley Graham 4. Willie Tonga 5. Shannon Hegarty 6. Travis Burns 7. Johnathan Thurston (c) 8. Shane Tronc 9. Aaron Payne 10. Antonio Kaufusi 11. Steve Southern 12. Scott Bolton 13. Luke O'Donnell Interchange: 14. Clint Amos 15. Steve Rapira 16. Matt Scott 18. Ben Harris
Welcome to Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide for the basement battle of the round. Two sides who are struggling to really get their campaigns running for that elusive Premiership trophy. It's the Sharks and the Cowboys. We're about 10 minutes from kickoff.
The Cowboys are going to kickoff from the Southern end. The Sharks will have first use of the football.
1st min: Johnathan Thurston kicks off and Kade Snowden hits it up. Trent Barrett kicks it straight down the throat of Matt Bowen.
3rd min: Penalty to the Cowboys after a high tackle from the Sharks.
5th min: The Cowboys keep bashing it up. Thurston kicks chips ahead and it comes off a Shark but Willie Tonga knocks it forward trying to regather. Let off for the Sharks.
6th min: The Sharks are away down the right touchline! It's with David Simmons but he's taken into touch.
8th min: Aaron Payne flicks it wide on to Matt Bowen! He gives it on to Hegarty! He's bundled in to touch.
10th min: Luke O'Donnell offloads to Thurston but it's lost forward by Steve Southern. The Sharks will have the scrum near the halfway line.
12th min: Matthew Wright goes in! But it's called back by the video ref! It's ruled to have gone forward. Scrum to the Cowboys.
14th min: Mitch Brown is caught in his in-goal by Matt Bowen. The Cowboys will have possession through a drop out. Great chase.
15th min: Scott Bolton caught on the 5 metre line. Cross kick goes through and it's cleaned up beautifully by Mitch Brown.
17th min: Thurston tries a chip kick again but it goes dead. The Sharks will have a 20 metre tap.
19th min: Luke Douglas offloads to Mitch Brown and he's away! Caught again and then lost forward. The Cowboys regather the footy.
21st min: Penalty awarded to the Sharks as Thurston drags Simmons into touch. Great position here for the Sharks to apply some pressure.
22nd min: Matthew Wright goes in again! We're going to go upstairs to check for obstruction.
22nd min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Matthew Wright won't be denied again and the Sharks will have the first points of the match. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 4-0
23rd min: Penalty awarded to the Cowboys. Trent Barrett is penalised for coming forward with an elbow.
23rd min: Cowboys on the attack now. Cut out to Ben Farrar! He's away! But it's called back for a forward pass.
25th min: Cowboys spread it wide out. 5th tackle and Travis Burns grubbers ahead and it's easily cleaned up by the Sharks. Wonderful defense by the Sharks.
26th min: Willie Tonga knocks it forward and the Sharks will have a scrum 5 metres in Cowboys territory.
27th min: Ben Pomeroy breaks away! Seu Seu runs out of dummyhalf! But the Cowboys shut the move down and get the ball back but then lose it forward. Another great chance for the Sharks.
29th min: Trent Barrett is taken by Steve Southern. Brett Seymour kicks it high into the Adelaide sky! But Shannon Hegarty knocks it dead. The Sharks will get 6 more tackles.
31st min: The Sharks get good field position after another penalty. Ben Pomeroy grabs a flick pass and goes in! But again it's called forward! The Cowboys will have the scrum from 10 metres out. Luke O'Donnell has blood streaming from his head and is called to get cleaned up. "Get that taken care of mate..." says Chris James.
33rd min: Matt Scott offloads to Thurston. Ball played 5 metres from the Cronulla line. Thurston kicks ahead again! Shannon Hegarty gets it! We're going to go upstairs to check the grounding and the onside but it looks good.
34th min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Try awarded to Shannon Hegarty. Wide out for Thurston to convert and he kicks a beautiful conversion! The Cowboys take the lead! Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 6-4
36th min: The Cowboys receive the restart and lose it in their first set. The Sharks will have the scrum on the 40 metre line in the North Queensland half.
37th min: The Sharks force the Cowboys into the in-goal and they'll get a drop out. Wonderful offensive defense.
38th min: Thurston shuts down Barrett. Seymour kicks it high again, this time to Farrar's wing and he gobbles it up beautifully. Great defence from the Cowboys this time and a fantastic catch from Ben Farrar.
39th min: The Sharks lose the ball and Thurston flicks it up to Steve Rapira who takes it forward. Ashley Graham then loses it and the Sharks will breathe a sigh of relief before the halftime hooter goes.
Halftime here in Adelaide in an entertaining game of footy. These two teams are really having taking it to each other but can't seem to finish their chances. Cronulla showed us all their brilliant defense and Thurston showed us some of his patented flair. Let's hope for an entertaining second stanza but at halftime it's the Cowboys leading in Adelaide by 6 points to 4.
Thurston leads his side out for the second half and his team will be receiving the kickoff to open the 2nd half.
41st min: The Cowboys let the kick off go. A bit of indecisiveness there! The ball is knocked back to Thurston.
42nd min: Matt Bowen receives a kick from Trent Barrett and he offloads to Ben Farrar who is hammered on his 30 metre line. Penalty is awarded to the Cowboys as the tackle is ruled to be extended. Thurston boots it into touch. The Cowboys attack on the 10 metre line.
43rd min: High tackle is ruled on Travis Burns and the Cowboys will get 6 more tackles with a penalty. Thurston kicks the ball backwards from the 6 metres out to the 10 metre line and gives his team more space.
44th min: Luke O'Donnell bashes his way through the line despite Mitch Brown's effort to stop him! Rampaging run! We're going to go upstairs to look at the grounding.
45th min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Try for Luke O'Donnell! Wonderful reward for a rampaging burst at the Shark line. Thurston kicks the goal to give the Cowboys an 8 point lead. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 12-4
46th min: The Cowboys kick a 40/20! Wonderful kick from Thurston who's making his presence felt! They'll have another go at the Sharks defence.
46th min: Clint Amos is taken off with an injury as time is called off. He limps to the sideline as Aaron Payne comes back on.
47th min: Kick over the top from Thurston and it's knocked dead by the Sharks. The Cowboys will get another set.
48th min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Aaron Payne goes for a run and he's away! He needs to link up with someone and he's got Willie Tonga with him! Wonderful break! Tonga's going to go in! No video referee needed here! Wonderful burst from Aaron Payne and great support from Willie Tonga! Thurston adds to his team's lead. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 18-4
49th min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Brett Seymour flicks it wide to Mitch Brown but there's no chance out here. Inside it goes and Ben Pomeroy steps inside again! Here he goes! He flicks it inside to support coming from Anthony Tupou! Try for Tupou! Lovely work from Ben Pomeroy! Covell adds the extras. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. North Queensland Cowboys 18-10
50th min: Penalty awarded after the Cowboys continued working over Kade Snowden. Chance for the Sharks to get back into this.
51st min: Luke Covell steps inside Travis Burns and goes in! But the video referee rules a penalty for obstruction. Ouch! The Sharks needed that.
53rd min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Thurston kicks ahead and Blake Ferguson is at the back but it bounces awkwardly for him! Ben Farrar chases and gets it down! Try to the Cowboys! Long way back for the Sharks here. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston unsuccessful. North Queensland Cowboys 22-10
54th min: Luke O'Donnell who's been in a bit of trouble today gets awarded a penalty after he's tackled high.
55th min: Matt Bowen looks to pass to his left but sells a beautiful dummy. Thurston looks to go over but he's lost it. Turnover and a let off for the Sharks.
56th min: Matthew Wright offloads to David Simmons and it's kicked across field. Tronc can't handle it and it could be a try here! But no! It's lost forward by the Sharks.
60th min: Blake Ferguson runs out of dummy half. Trent Barrett flicks it over to Ben Poweroy. It's passed over to Luke Covell but he's taken into touch. Poor pass.
66th min: Travis Burns offloads to Bolton who takes it to the 20 metre line. O'Donnell goes for a long run and makes 10 metres. Tronc goes close. The Cowboys try to go around the Sharks but the pass is fired into touch.
68th min: The Sharks counter with a bit of razzle-dazzle. It's passed out wide and Brown chimes into the backline. He looks to burst through and is caught. The Sharks again lose it forward and the Cowboys look to have them pegged.
70th min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Scott Bolton gets a pass from his skipper and he offloads to Bowen! Matt Bowen bursts onto the ball and steps, dives! Scores! Wonderful work! That should be the match. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 28-10
71st min: The Sharks get a penalty but don't kick it into touch! Cardinal sin! Farrar counters and is tackled on his 30 metre line.
72nd min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Tronc takes a pass from Thurston and he goes over! Backs and forwards combining magnificently here! The Cowboys rub salt into the wounds of the Sharks. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. North Queensland Cowboys 34-10
76th min: The Sharks try to run the ball out and have to kick it from their own 20 metre line. Farrar receives it and the Cowboys prepare to attack in good field position.
77th min: Bowen grubbers into the Sharks in-goal area and it's helped across the deadball line. The Cowboys will have another chance to add to their score.
80th min: Trent Barrett takes the Sharks outside their 20 metre line and they try to spread it wide. The Cowboys have really strangled them inside their own half. Seymour kicks over the top and Thurston gets it, flicks it on to Bowen who finds Tonga. Tonga streaks away! He's caught though! The Sharks get back onside and shut the Cowboys down. It's all in vein though as the fulltime whistle goes.
Fulltime here in the City of Churches. The Cowboys have come and delivered a comprehensive performance in a wonderful second half against the Sharks. Matt Bowen and Johnathan Thurston absolutely terrorised the Sharks with their speed and skill. Wonderful performance from the Cowboys. The Sharks will have to look back at what went wrong with a stream of errors in the secondhalf keeping them from ever really building any points and robbing them of any good field position. Thanks for joining us in sunny Adelaide as the North Queensland Cowboys have beaten the Cronulla Sharks to the tune of 34 points to 10.