North Queensland dumped the reigning Premiers, Cronulla Sharks out of the NRL Finals with a stunning 15-14 comeback win.
With the scores all square come full-time, Michael Morgan’s golden point extra time drop goal sealed the win for the Cowboys.
Cronulla were ahead from the outset. After Antonio Winterstein fumbled the ball when under pressure in the ingoal, Chad Townsend was on hand to ground the ball. Maloney’s conversion and a further penalty extended the Sharks’ lead to eight.
The Cowboys weren’t to be kept scoreless in the half however as Ethan Lowe struck a penalty goal when he was impeded by James Maloney, a penalty that saw Maloney spend ten minutes on the sideline.
North Queensland brought themselves back to within two when Morgan’s floating pass found Kyle Feldt in space and the winger finished well in the corner.
It wasn’t long before Cronulla struck back. Townsend grubbered into the corner for the returning Jack Bird to score. Maloney’s conversion took them back out to an eight point lead.
The Cowboys wouldn’t go away. Jason Taumalolo, who made 256 metres in the match, burrowed his way to the ground despite the attentions of multiple Sharks defenders.
With five minutes to go, North Queensland were level. A ball steal gave Ethan Lowe an easy chance to level the scores.
Ten minutes later, deep into extra time, Michael Morgan slotted an easy drop goal to send North Queensland through to play Parramatta in another sudden death final next week.
Sharks: 1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sosaia Feki, 3 Jack Bird, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Gerard Beale, 6 James Maloney, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Luke Lewis, 12 Wade Graham, 13 Paul Gallen; Interchanges: 14 Jason Bukuya, 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Jeremy Latimore, 17 James Segeyaro
Tries: Townsend, Bird; Goals: Maloney 3
Cowboys: 1 Lachlan Coote, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Javid Bowen, 4 Kane Linnett, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Te Maire Martin, 7 Michael Morgan, 17 Shaun Fensom, 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Ethan Lowe, 13 Jason Taumalolo; Interchanges: 8 John Asiata, 14 Ben Hampton, 15 Coen Hess, 16 Corey Jensen
Tries: Feldt, Taumalolo; Goals: Lowe 3; Drop Goal: Morgan
Full coverage of all the weekend’s NRL matches will feature in Monday’s issue of League Express, available in the shops and online from Sunday evening.