Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
On Saturday night the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks hosted the North Queensland Cowboys in a finals classic that went beyond extra time and into golden point.
In the end Valentine Holmes would kick a two-point field goal beyond 40 metres out to secure victory for the Cowboys and a week off before the preliminary final.
Sharks winger Connor Tracey was sin-binned with seven minutes to go in regular time as it was believed he impeded Holmes who was chasing down a Chad Townsend kick.
While Tracey was off the field the Cowboys kicked a penalty goal and scored a converted try which sent the game to extra time.
Dally M Medal contender Nicho Hynes was interviewed by Channel Nine after the game and expressed his frustration with the decision for Tracey to be binned.
“A bit hard done by, I reckon, (with) that sin-bin,” Hynes said.
“Shoulder to shoulder and you get sin-binned for that.
“But we’ve still got to defend our line there.”
Former player and Channel Nine pundit Cameron Smith gave his thoughts on the call during the post-game show.
“I think because Val Holmes was between him and the ball … he was sort of blinded when Val Holmes was going to take control of that football,” Smith said.
“So I think he was just banking on Val getting the ball in his hands and trying to knock it free or even trying to hold him up.”
Whether or not the decision was correct Cronulla will now host the winner of this afternoon’s clash between the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs next Saturday night in an elimination final game.
As suburban grounds are only permitted to host games in the first week of the finals the Sharks will be playing this game at either Allianz or Accor Stadium with either ground likely to give the winner of today’s game the advantage in terms of the number of supporters that will be attending.
The Cowboys are now just one win away from their fourth Grand Final appearance and will have the home field advantage at Queensland Country Bank Stadium when they face either the Parramatta Eels or Canberra Raiders in two weeks.