North Queensland secured a much-needed win over an injury-plagued Cronulla outfit as they prevailed 24-4 at 1300SMILES Stadium in Round 16.
In a scrappy affair, North Queensland didn’t take too long to open the scoring as Kane Linnett pushed his way over out wide, but a great pass from Todd Carney to send Luke Lewis over midway through the half ensured the scores were locked at 4-all at the break.
While Cronulla were fighting hard, they clearly missed the influence of absent trio Paul Gallen, Michael Gordon and Beau Ryan and again it was the Cowboys taking a 10-4 lead just minutes into the second half as Gavin Cooper scored one off the ruck.
They should have at least doubled their lead thanks to two brilliant pieces of Thurston play, including a big hit that forced the ball loose and a perfect pass to put Tariq Sims through a hole on the try line but in both cases the pass was spilled. Instead, it was left to a Thurston penalty goal with 10 minutes remaining to give the home side some breathing room and Thurston was the man on hand to finally put the game to bed a few minutes later when the Sharks spilled the ball and he picked up the scraps to send Antonio Winterstein across. Kane Linnett then added his second of the night in the dying seconds to secure a 20-point win.
The Cowboys enjoyed 57 per cent of possession – completing 35 sets of six to Cronulla’s 20 and making 75 fewer tackles.
North Queensland’s big men stood tall in this one with James Tamou running for 200 metres and Matt Scott 173.
Luke Lewis was strong for Cronulla with 134 metres, 28 tackles and seven tackle-breaks.