Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 44 – 6 North Queensland Cowboys

The Cronulla Sharks have run rampant over North Queensland, scoring in the first minute and running in seven tries, to win the inaugural Paul Green Medal match in emphatic fashion.

Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes was named the medal recipient after scoring a try, kicking eight goals from nine attempts, and controlling much of the play at Shark Park.

The medal was named after former Cronulla player and Cowboys coach, Green, who died last August aged just 49, and led North Queensland to its only premiership in 2015.

Thursday night’s clash at PointsBet Stadium saw much character from both sides, but from the opening try there was never any question about who would run out winners.

Todd Payten’s side got off to a rough start having conceded within the first minute of the game by way of right centre Siosifa Talakai, who helped put the Sharks up early.

A lazy penalty meant the Sharks could increase their lead by two, and star halfback Nicholas Hynes raised the score to 8-0.

Nicho controlled the game, his kicking game was outstanding. It was fitting a Sharks No. 7 got the medal.

Not too long after the Cowboys leaked points again, this time through a great run from edge forward Briton Nikora who set up left centre Jesse Ramien for his fourth try of the season.

With 12 minutes left of the first half, left winger Sione Katoa barged his way over the left edge defence of the Cowboys to put Cronulla up 20-0.

The North Queensland side were finally able to put points on the board through a great line break from five-eighth Tom Dearden who set up left winger Kyle Feldt for his fourth of the season.

The first half was easily controlled by the Sharks who seemed composed the entire 40 minutes, dominating field position and possession of the football, and taking a compelling 20-6 into the break.

Coach Craig Fitzgibbon was likely to be very pleased with his side’s first half performance.

While there wasn’t much upside to the Cowboys’ game plan, left centre Valentine Holmes was easily their best player of the half, making great returns and working hard to earn desperate metres for his side.

The Cowboys were faced with an uphill battle in the second half, and it appeared as though they had picked up where they left off, playing in an ill-disciplined fashion and handing the opposition with opportunities to score.


Only three minutes into the second half and the Sharks went over again, this time through right winger Ronaldo Mulitalo, who scored his eighth try in his eighth game – pushing the score to 24-6.

Promising edge forward Jack Williams made a surprising line break and was caught high by Cowboys fullback, Scott Drinkwater, which meant Cronulla could increase their lead by two more points. Hynes stepped up and made it 26-6.

A controversial tackle attempt from Cowboys forward Coen Hess saw him sin binned in his 150th career game in the NRL. Not long after Hess’ send-off, the Sharks scored again through Mulitalo, who made

it look all too easy.

A ferocious set from the Sharks a minute later saw them go over again. After a poor error from Drinkwater, Hynes capitalised and scored his first try of the night.

Yet again there was a dangerous hip-drop tackle, this time carried out by Cowboys’ young edge Jeremiah Nanai on prop Braden Hamlin-Uele, meaning Nanai would be sent to the bin.

The services of Cronulla’s 18th man, Braydon Trindall were requested after Hamlin-Uele left the field for a sustained injury from the Nanai tackle.

Soon after Nanai was discharged, Cronulla went over again through a great short ball from five-eighth Matt Moylan, setting up the strapping edge, Teig Wilton, and bringing an end to the game.

After the match Fitzgibbon praised Hynes in what he said was a close decision for the medal.

“It was a difficult one, I thought Blayke Brailey was outstanding tonight, he’s been good this whole year, and Braden Hamlin-Uele was another one we thought was close,” said Fitzgibbon.

“But Nicho controlled the game, his kicking game was outstanding. It was fitting a Sharks No. 7 got the medal.”

The Cowboys can attribute this loss to their ill-discipline, tallying a total of eight penalties in comparison to the Sharks’ two.

This North Queensland side has become a shadow of their previous year’s form, producing only three wins out of nine games. Coach Payten will have much to consider heading into their Magic Round clash with the Sydney Roosters.

Conversely, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks again proved they are a force to be reckoned with in 2023, with this win establishing them as the current highest scoring side in the competition. Next week in their Magic Round they take on in-form newcomers Redcliffe Dolphins.

Main image courtesy