Sharks hold off Cowboys, into top eight

Sharks hold off Cowboys, into top eight

Resurgent Cronulla have registered four NRL wins in a row for the first time since 2018 as they held on to beat fast-finishing North Queensland 26-24 in Townsville.

The Sharks led 26-12 with eight minutes remaining before the Cowboys conjured up another of their trademark comebacks only to fall just short.

Kyle Feldt led the fightback, crossing with seven minutes to play before a cheeky play by the Origin winger saw him bag another try just a minute later.

Feldt simply reached around Scott Drinkwater to touch down in the corner after the playmaker was tackled just short of the line.

Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes then came up short with a 43-metre field goal attempt in the final minute that would have levelled the scores.

The hectic final 10 minutes couldn't dampen a consistent and strong display by Josh Hannay's Sharks (6-8), who enter the NRL's top eight after losing six games in a row early in the season.

They had a fine game in attack, led by halves Shaun Johnson and Matt Moylan, and their defensive pressure forced the Cowboys into basic errors.

Drinkwater's last-tackle options didn't put enough pressure on the Sharks, while his opposite number Johnson created with his usual flair.

Unwanted by his club next season, Johnson also finished a perfect 5/5 off the boot and the visitors' sole second-half try to centre Will Chambers created a big enough margin to eke out the win.

The Sharks took an eight-point lead into the break on the back of easy metres made up the middle.

Enjoying a 65 per cent share of territory over the first 40 minutes, Siosifa Talakai and Aaron Woods were the backbone of Cronulla's pack, creating an easy platform for Moylan and Johnson.

Cronulla had raced out to a 12-0 lead after 10 minutes as Johnson grubbered for Connor Tracey to score and Woods crashed over from close range.

The Cowboys were quick to hit back through Tom Dearden, who scored a try in his home debut after a heads-up decision by Drinkwater.

Their left-edge attack was well-read by the Sharks, and Drinkwater spun around and shifted the ball to his halves partner who dummied past Talakai from 20 metres out.

Johnson added a penalty after a high shot in the 25th minute, before the Cowboys bagged their second try after Lachlan Burr was dragged down just short of the line.

After a quick play-the-ball Dearden found Francis Molo fresh off the bench to crash over.

The Sharks bagged a crucial try before halftime when Holmes knocked on and from the resulting scrum William Kennedy turned the defence inside-out before gifting Ronaldo Mulitalo an easy put down.

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