Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Last night the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks travelled to Townsville for a big clash with fellow top four side the North Queensland Cowboys.
The Sharks went into the sheds at half-time with a slim 14-12 lead and in the second half went on to score 12 unanswered points to secure a 26-12 victory that sees Craig Fitzgibbon’s side go into tied second place on the ladder with the Cowboys but remain in third for the time being on for and against.
Coming out of the game all the talk has been about the officiating with many fans outraged over one call by the Bunker in particular.
With a little over 20 minutes to go Jason Taumalolo barged over the line for what seemed like a try that would have put the Cowboys in the lead.
However, the Bunker deemed that Sharks forward Braden Hamlin-Uele was obstructed by Cowboys hooker Reece Robson and Taumalolo’s try was disallowed.
Cronulla then had the advantage and scored through Teig Wilton the next set for the first points of the second half.
North Queensland’s head coach Todd Payten commented on the call during the post-match press conference.
“A couple of those big moments went against us no doubt, that one hurts, and they go down and score a try that should have been stopped,” said Payten.
“The game is in the balance, I don’t like it purely because it rewards the player for having a play off, and then the fact that he intentionally runs up the back of support play.
“I don’t know how he [Hamlin-Uele] is going to stop Jason either, he would have pushed him further into the in-goal.”
The fight for second place and a home final in early September is well and truly on as the Sharks travel to Penrith seeking a third straight win against a top-four side when they take on the Panthers while the Cowboys have an easier task on paper against the bottom of the ladder Wests Tigers.
As the Melbourne Storm drop to fourth place on the ladder after a dip in form it also seems likely that the Cowboys and Sharks will meet again in week one of the finals.