Pre-game temperature dramas didn't hurt the Sharks as they notched their first win of the season with a 26-16 victory in a baffling game of Rugby League in Townsville.
Cronulla were left with the potential situation of not being able to field a side just 90 minutes before the game tonight, with six of their players recording a temperature higher than the 37.2-degree limit imposed under COVID-19 biosecurity rules. Thankfully, all six were later cleared and were allowed to play.
The opening twenty-one minutes went without either team troubling the scoreboard, although it wasn't through a lack of trying with Shaun Johnson missing a penalty goal attempt at the 15-minute mark when the Sharks were awarded a penalty after Josh Dugan was ruled to have been take out in the kick-chase.
Cronulla finally opened the scoring when Jesse Ramien was on the spot to get over the line, after Will Kennedy was somehow able to get an offload out the back. The conversion was successful and the Sharks lead 6-0.
The bizarre nature of the game about to unfold was starting to show itself when just four minutes later, Kyle Feldt was able to score down a very narrow short-side despite the fact there was there three Cronulla defenders, but Feldt crossed untouched.
Not completing your set after points is one of the NRL's most cardinal sins - an error from Cowboys interchange player Shane Wright gave the Sharks good field position and it was Ronaldo Mulitalo who scored following a good kick from Johnson and - after the bunker cleared it - the Sharks went to a 12-6 lead. They then had a try disallowed before half-time for an obstruction, as well as a wayward field goal.
The second-half was an all-round strange affair with the Cowboys scoring just two minutes into the second half when Justin O'Neill had more urgency to get to the ball off a kick than any of the Sharks defenders. The O'Neill try was not converted and the Cowboys trailed by just two points.
The Sharks then hit back just three minutes later when Mulitalo got his way over the line and was able to stay in the field of play to just get it down in the corner, extending the Sharks lead despite Johnson missing the conversion.
Points continued to flow in quick succession with the Sharks again extending their lead out to 10 points when Jesse Ramien ran 65 metres following a Cowboys error which saw Johnson clean up the ball on his own line before putting Ramien into space.
Every story has it's twists - and Kyle Feldt put another one into this game - when he was able to clean up a shocking grubber from Sione Katoa, and Feldt ran 60m untouched to score and close the gap yet again. Valentine Holmes added the conversion to bring the margin back to a converted try.
The Sharkies were able to extend their lead on the hour mark when Briton Nikora found himself in the right spot after Ronaldo got up to tap down a Johnson kick, and the Sharks second rower nabbed the four-pointer.
Another twist could've seen the Cowboys close the margin once more when the bunker was all but certain to award Esan Marsters a try before deciding to take a look at a final replay which saw Shane Wright get a touch to the ball just before Marsters caught it, so the decision was knocked back.
Neither side could test the others' try line in the final quarter of the match and the Sharks secured their 26-16 victory,
Next weekend, the Cowboys will head to Gosford to take on the New Zealand Warriors on Friday night whilst the Sharks take on their local rivals the Dragons at the not so local Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday night.