Cronulla fielded one of their most inexperienced spines ever, yet still managed to run rings around the Cowboys, who were clumsy and non-threatening for the majority of the game. The Sharks finished 28-12 winners at Kogarah.
The Sharks came into the game with Will Kennedy (13 games), Braydon Trindall (2 games), Connor Tracey (12 games) and Blayke Brailey (30 games) in their spine and from the outset were playing faster and more expansive footy.
It was though the Cowboys who scored first, in just the sixth minute, when Scott Drinkwater sent a nice ball over the top of Ronaldo Mulitalo, who rushed up and in. Kyle Feldt took the pass and strolled over the line for a soft try. Valentine Holmes nailed the sideline conversion.
The Sharks then had two tries disallowed by the bunker, in the 9th minute and then the 11th. They wouldn't be denied in the 12th minute though when Trindall dished a short ball to Briton Nikora, who ran a straight line and busted through the Cowboys defence to score to the right of the posts. Trindall converted from almost in front.
Just after that try was scored, Michael Morgan limped off the field with a calf injury which looks set to rule him out for the rest of the year.
Ten minutes later, Cronulla crossed for their second try in glorious fashion. Some quick passing on the right side gets the ball to Kennedy, who then threw a hard, highish ball out to Sione Katoa, who took it one-handed and then dived with all the grace of Rudolf Nureyev in his prime, to score in the corner. Trindall was unable to convert from the sideline.
The Sharks next set after the restart ended with Brailey kicking a 40/20. They then forced a drop out from the ensuing set. Late in the next set, Braden Hamlin-Uele received a short ball from Aaron Woods and the big unit plowed through the defence to score a good try near the posts. Trindall's conversion attempt hit the post and went through for another 2 points.
The Sharks had all of the field position for the rest of half but couldn't add to their score. At halftime, they lead 16-6.
Cronulla continued where they left off when the second half resume, crossing for a try just two minutes after the restart. Brailey exploded out of dummy half, linked with Trindall who got a nice offload along to Niukore, who then drew the fullback before passing to Siosifa Talakai and the big man channelled his inner Josh Addo-Carr to race away and score! Trindall's conversion was good.
Four minutes later the Sharks were denied a try by the bunker for a third time, when it was found that Josh Dugan had failed to get behind the kicker.
The Sharks put the game to bed in the 69th minute after Kennedy made a break through the middle and then passed to Tracey, who looked to be tackled well shy of the line, but momentum saw him get close to the line before he then managed to get the ball, just, on the line for a try! Trindall added the extras from almost in front.
The Cowboys got a consolation try in the final 90 seconds of the game via a standard scrum play. Holmes received the ball, drifted right towards the sideline, drew the Sharks winger in and then sent a good ball to Feldt, who scored comfortably in the corner. Holmes converted, but it was way too little, way too late.