Sharks mow down Cowboys

They’ve engineered their fair share of great escapes in 2015.

But North Queensland got a taste of their own medicine in Townsville on Saturday night, when Cronulla stormed home from 18-0 down to claim a memorable 24-18 win.

Minus rested skipper Johnathan Thurston, the Cowboys were in cruise control and on the way to their 12th straight victory before the Sharks piled on 24 unanswered points in 26 minutes in a second half blitzkrieg.

Overcoming a three-try deficit against the NRL’s form side was a huge effort and captain Wade Graham said they got there by focusing only on themselves.

“I don’t think we read too much into it, their streak,” he said.

“The feeling in the first half was more frustration at ourselves.

“All the chat behind the line after tries wasn’t really about the Cowboys, it was about us. We hadn’t completed a set, there was silly penalties.

“Halftime came at a good time for us, we were able to sit down and take a couple of deep breaths.

“If we could hang in there and get possession we knew that we could turn it around.”

A pensive Paul Green said the Cowboys streak had to end sometime but he refused to blame the absence of Thurston.

“It doesn’t matter. He didn’t play so it’s not worth talking about,” he said.

“Regardless about the streak, we’re a bit disappointed with the way we played, particularly in that second half.

“We weren’t able to get ourselves back into the game through our defence.”

Dummy half Jake Granville, centre Justin O’Neill and winger Antonio Winterstein all crossed in the first half hour as the Cowboys carved them up.

But through sustained pressure on North Queensland’s line, Cronulla were able to graft their way back into the contest through tries to Luke Lewis, Sam Tagatese and Andrew Fifita.

Centre Ricky Leutele crossed for what turned out to be the match-winner in the 66th minute.

Sosaia Feki was taken from the field with a burner but is unlikely to be in doubt for the Sharks’ next match.

Three players were put on report, Granville for the Cowboys and Michael Ennis and Matt Prior for Cronulla, for placing players in dangerous positions.

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