Almanac Rugby League – An ugly win is still a win

It was a balmy night, with the threat of light rain. Nevertheless no rain eventuated. Johnathan Thurston and Gavin Cooper were sick leading up to the game. Both had a stomach virus. Ashton Simms was ruled out with niggling knee problems. Cronulla were fortunate to have exciting playmaker Albert Kelly back in the fold after missing all games since round seven.

The Cowboys kicked off and some early good work from Cronulla left the Cowboys shell-shocked as fullback Isaac Gordon went over to give the Sharks the ascendancy. This try in the first minute of the game resulted from some half-hearted tackling attempts. The conversion from John Williams was successful.  Sharks 6 Cowboys 0

It was four minutes before the Cowboys held the ball and some good runs from Matt Scott and Dallas Johnson led to Ashley Graham being forced into touch after some good go-forward from a rampant Cowboys backline.

Luke Douglas and Jeremy Smith led the way for the Sharks with some good hit ups. Former Cowboy, John Williams was strong in attack in spite of some early attention from his former teammates. After twelve minutes the Cronulla Sharks received a penalty through a late tackle by James Tamou on Sharks playmaker, Albert Kelly.  Unfortunately for them, the goal attempt by Williams from just behind the 20-metre line missed.

More strong carries from Luke Douglas and Paul Gallen kept the Sharks on top of the Cowboys. Unfortunately Gallen suffered a neck twinge and was forced from the field. Wade Graham took over as leader for the Sharks and really worried the Cowboys with his inventive play.

A strip-penalty helped raise the flags once again for the Sharks through Williams. Sharks 8, Cowboys 0 in the seventeenth minute.

Colin Best was cutting up the middle and giving the Cowboys plenty to think about. Jason Taumalolo made an immediate impact when coming off the bench and his good work was matched by seasoned campaigner Scott Bolton. The Cowboys received a penalty for a strip close to the Sharks line. Tariq Simms ran the ball up charging into four desperate Sharks defenders. Players close to Tariq heard a sickening noise from Tariq’s lower leg. Unfortunately for him he had snapped both the tibia and fibula and was hospital-bound for an emergency operation.

This setback was quickly reversed as the 191 cm, 110 kg Taumalolo took a pass from Segeyaro to crash over and score. Thurston raised the flags and much to the delight of the crowd the Cowboys were back in the game.   Sharks 8 Cowboys 6.

This try brought the Sharks back to life and a couple of missed tackles led to Gordon making a good run only to be tackled by fullback Matt Bowen. Gordon used all his skills to one-arm the ball to Wade Graham who went over under the posts. John Williams raised the flags.  Sharks 14, Cowboys 6.

The Cowboys went into the sheds staring down four straight losses after last week’s close loss the Rabbitohs.

The half-time talk from coach Henry bore instant results as just after the resumption, Glen Hall  went straight through the Sharks defence and crashed over for a try. Jonathan Thurston did the honours. Sharks 14 Cowboys 12

Kade Snowden carried out some strong hit-ups, one of which forced Dallas Johnson from the field with concussion after his head came into contact with Snowden’s knee. No penalty was forthcoming.

A late-tackle penalty led to an airborne-corner try by Ashley Graham which went to video ref Sutton for adjudication. Ash was rewarded. Thurston’s conversion hit the upright and failed to convert. Cowboys 16 Sharks 14.

Fortunes for the Sharks quickly changed, Kelly made a good break. Jeremy Smith promoted the ball setting up a try for Kumul rep., Paul Aiton. This was converted by Williams. Sharks 20 Cowboys 16.

After a knock–on by Cronulla after a chip kick from live wire Bowen, the 18 year old Taumalolo crashed over for his second try, carrying four Sharkies on his broad frame. Thurston brought up his 1000th point with a conversion in front of the sticks. Cowboys 22 Sharks 20.

Mistakes from John Morris and Paul Gallen marred the Sharks’ final ditch efforts to get back into the game. Right on the 80th minute Matty Bowen put in a short kick which he regained just before the line to promote the ball over for the final nail in the Cronulla Coffin. Jonathan converts. Final Score Cowboys 28 Sharks 20.

After the game, Co-captain Johnathan described the win as “ugly” but thankful to gain two points to keep the Cowboys in sight on a home semi final.

North Queensland: 28 (J Taumalolo 2, M. Bowen, A Graham, G.Hall tries, J Thurston 4 goals def.
Cronulla 20: (P.Aiton, I. Gordon, W Graham tries, J Williams 4 Goals)

Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville
Crowd: 12,655.
Points: J Taumalolo 3, Wade Graham 2, Ash. Graham 1
Milestone: J Thurston 1000 NRL points.

Peter Hulthen


About Peter Hulthen

Born in Brisbane, I spent my formative years playing cricket and rugby in the local Yeronga Park. My great love of all sports has followed me around the state whilst working as a Primary Principal. Now retired I spend my time now mentoring younger Rugby Coaches and keeping in touch with my former team mates via email. I still play Golden Oldies Rugby and look forward to the Annual Charters Towers Goldfield Ashes.


  1. Peter, I’ve only seen Dairy Farmers Stadium from up on the ridge. Looks like a great spot for football.

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