The Cronulla Sharks have ended the NRL regular season for 2008 on a good note, dispatching the plucky North Queensland Cowboys in horrid conditions at Toyota Park. The Sharks leading comfortably by 20 points, before the Cowboys ran in 3 tries in the final 10 minutes for a final score of 28-22
For the Sharks, it was rangy winger Luke Covell who chipped, stabbed and kicked conversions brilliantly to give the Sharks an attacking edge and get them away to a comfortable lead.
The unfashionable Sharks winger made 3 unique plays to create touchdowns for Brett Kearney, Brett Seymour and Terence Seu Seu allowing the Cronulla side plenty of breathing space early.
Covell was deadly accurate as he kicked cross-field to a flying Kearney in the 24th minute for Cronulla’s 2nd touchdown of the night – a much needed dash of attacking flare for the usually defensively oriented Sharks side.
Just minutes after the break, Covell was in the action again – this time keeping the football alive with his foot as he fell over the sideline, allowing the ball to flash into the in-goal for Brett Seymour to make the most of it and score, getting the Cronulla side out in front to the tune of 22-4.
Covell shone yet again, this time with more footwork – chipping from the touchline inside the final 20 minutes for former Newcastle rake Terrence Seu Seu to get a 4-pointer and ensure Cronulla would not be beaten on the night.
The struggling Cowboys however, did manage to lay on 3 late tries to prop Shane Tronc (71st), Matthew Scott (73rd) and Ty Williams (77th) to give themselves something to smile about in what has been a horror season for the previously high flying Northern club.
For the Sharks Luke Covell also capped off a top night, booting 4 goals from 5 – to give him what seems like the honours for leading point scorer in the NRL. His good form also helping the winger boost chances of extending terms with Ricky Stuart and the Sharks club.
Cronulla currently sit in 2nd place on the NRL ladder, their final finishing position only confirmed once Melbourne face South Sydney tomorrow night,
For the North Queensland Cowboys, they have a more concerning wait – possibly copping the NRL wooden spoon if the Bulldogs pull off a major turnaround against the usually strong Raiders in Canberra.
The Cowboys while finally ending a tragic year all-round, did manage to start tonights game with some potential. The visitors getting away to solid start through Ashley Graham and his touchdown inside 5 minutes.
But the Sharks showed they can be an attacking threat when they want to be with 3 tries in in a 10 minute period of the first hard – to Ben Ross (20th minute), Kearney (24th) and Kade Snowden (28th) – and take an 18-4 lead into the break.
The other positive news for the Cronulla club is their continued confidence and form, without prominent pivot Greg Bird. The Sharks will fancy their chances in the NRL Top 8, certainly considering they are likely to get a 2nd bite at the cherry after facing potentially the Dragons or Raiders in their first week.