The Cowboys battled to a hard-fought 20-14 win over the Sharks in JT’s 300th game in a game where neither side played to their potential. Both sides looked sloppy and made several basic errors they will hope to improve on in the coming weeks.
In more bad news for the Sharks, debutant Sione Katoa suffered what is feared to be a broken jaw and could face a lengthy stint on the sideline.
1 Very scrappy opening round game
Both sides made plenty of basic errors throughout the contest and neither really dominated the game. The Sharks were more guilty in this department than the Cowboys, several errors when working the ball out of their danger zone and poor discipline giving away penalties really hurt the visitors.
Neither side hit their straps in attack with both having chances to score points but unable to break the line with some clunky looking attacking raids.
2 Kicking boots missing
Except for Kyle Feldt's twisting kickoffs that hard the Sharks in knots the overall kicking games from both sides were well below par. Several poor kicks including a couple from the normally reliable JT who kicked out on the full twice and didn't have a happy night off the kicking tee.
The loss of James Maloney has hurt the sharks kicking with them really lacking in any penetration off the boot and struggled to build pressure as a result, this is an area they will need to address.
3 JT celebrates milestone with a win
JT is one of the most popular players in the NRL and a true legend of the game so was fitting for him to celebrate his 300th NRL game with a victory, he also took the record for most games for the club from good mate Matt Bowen.
Despite not playing his best it was a solid performance for his first game back from shoulder surgery, he had a hand in a couple Cowboys tries but was well below his best in the goal-kicking department. Expect him to only keep getting better with every game he gets under his belt this season.
4 Sharks fullback dilemma
Valentine Holmes has been given the fullback spot to start the season but with other high-quality fullbacks also on the books for the Sharks this year he will need to perform better than last night if he wants to keep that role.
Holmes struggled under the high ball making a couple of errors and letting some bounce, he also isn't a ball playing fullback which is something the sharks are lacking.
With someone the caliber of Josh Dugan playing in the centres and barely getting his hands on the ball, coach Shane Flanagan may look to make a position change if things don't turn around at the back.
5 New Recruits need time to adjust
Some big off-season moves were made for both clubs and while they had solid games, none of them set the world on the fire, these players will need time to find their feet at their new clubs.
Matt Moylan playing at 6 for the Sharks showed some good signs but still has work to do to win over the Sharks faithful, the same goes for Josh Dugan who many will expect to improve over the course of the season.
Jordan McLean also debut for the Cowboys and while his game was solid, it wasn't a standout performance from the big man
What takeaways did you have from the Cowboys win over the Sharks? Let us know in the comments below.
Highlights: North Queensland Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks - Round 1
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