Round 3 match of the NRL Telstra Premiership between the North Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks from 1300 Smiles Stadium, Towsnville. Cowboys Gavin Cooper is tackled. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Round 3 match of the NRL Telstra Premiership between the North Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks from 1300 Smiles Stadium, Towsnville. Cowboys Gavin Cooper is tackled. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Cowboys feel Sharks’ bite after second half collapse

COWBOYS coach Paul Green concedes his side needs to be more resilient after a second half capitulation saw them fall to the Cronulla Sharks 42-16 at 1300SMILES Stadium tonight.

The Cowboys went into halftime with a 10-6 lead before the Sharks blew them out of the water with five tries in a 20-minute period after the break including a double to centre Josh Morris.

Errors killed any momentum the Cowboys tried to build as a knock on from Ben Hampton led to a try for Josh Dugan while Michael Morgan kicked out on the full before Morris scored his second.

Green said the Cowboys had gone into halftime feeling happy about their performance on both sides of the ball, but he felt they struggled to overcome their mistakes when the Sharks got on a roll.

"That was the real difference between the first half and the second half, our ability to defend our errors," Green said.

"Defensively we just lost confidence in that second half and I think we were dwelling on the error that led up to it.

"If you're still stuck thinking about that, you're not thinking about what you need to do in defence. That's how you can turn a mistake into a try.

"We've got a fair few new combinations so it's important we try and get some confidence amongst the team and that didn't help there in that second half."

 

Jordan McLean tried to lead by example. Image: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Jordan McLean tried to lead by example. Image: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

The opening exchanges were littered with handling errors from both teams, but the Cowboys still had their chances to strike first as they were twice denied by the video referee.

The Sharks took control when captain got an offload away for halfback Chad Townsend to score under the posts and make it 6-0 to the visitors after 17 minutes.

All the running was with Cronulla, but the Cowboys found a way to hit back as Morgan turned a ball inside for towering prop Jordan McLean to crash over just on the half-hour mark.

The Cowboys started to click in attack as new fullback Te Maire Martin pounced on his own kick after a misread from Sharks winger Sosaia Feki to give the home side a 10-6 lead at halftime.

The Sharks made a dream start to the second half with a desperate effort from backrower Briton Nikora to ground the ball just inches inside the line as they hit the front again at 12-10.

And from there the floodgates opened as the visitors piled on 30 unanswered points as Townsend completed his double along with Morris and Dugan also found his way across the stripe.

Cowboys backrower Gavin Cooper stopped the rot as he strolled over to score off a pass from Morgan, but there was no miracle comeback as Sharks young gun Blayke Brailey scored right on fulltime to seal an emphatic victory.

CRONULLA SHARKS 42 (Chad Townsend 2, Josh Morris 2, Briton Nikora, Josh Dugan, Blayke Brailey tries; Shaun Johnson 7/7 goals) def NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS 16 (Jordan McLean, Te Maire Martin, Gavin Cooper tries; Jordan Kahu 2/3 goals) at 1300SMILES Stadium. Crowd: 11,610