Sharks bite back to beat Cowboys and go top


Defending NRL champions Cronulla Sharks staged an impressive fightback to defeat 2015 premiers North Queensland Cowboys 18-14 and move top of the table.

The Sharks, who ended the Cowboys' title defence in last year's preliminary final en route to their maiden NRL crown, trailed 14-0 at half-time as North Queensland dominated.

But the Cowboys, still missing injured star half-back Johnathan Thurston, struggled with the boot - their failure to convert two of three tries and knock over a simple penalty proving pivotal as the Sharks stormed back.

Cronulla scored three converted second-half tries to leapfrog Melbourne Storm, who they beat in last year's Grand Final, and go top on points difference, but having played a game more than their closest rivals.

Ray Thompson had an early try for the Cowboys disallowed - Lachlan Coote ruled to have interfered with Cronulla full-back Valentine Holmes as he attempted to collect a kick.

Sosaia Feki was then unable to ground a pinpoint James Maloney kick at the other end, but North Queensland broke the deadlock when Antonio Winterstein went over in the left-hand corner.

Ethan Lowe failed to add the extras and missed a routine penalty soon after, but the Cowboys extended their lead in stunning fashion with a short-side move, Thompson finding Kyle Feldt, who surged down the right before passing back inside for Ben Hampton to dot down.

Feldt added the extras and then leapt above Feki to claim a cross-field kick from Michael Morgan and make it 14-0, though the conversion was once again missed.

Cronulla looked to be running out of ideas in the second half, but a moment of magic from Maloney saw him dummy two defenders to go over under the posts.

Andrew Fifita displayed neat footwork and power to suck in multiple defenders and offload for Chad Townsend for Cronulla's second try, reducing the gap to two points.

And the comeback was completed 14 minutes from time, Feki atoning for his earlier profligacy with a fine finish in the left-hand corner having been fed by Holmes.