ELEVEN months ago Cronulla staged a stunning comeback to beat North Queensland 24-18, ending the NRL club’s 11-game winning streak.
After racing out to an 18-0 lead the Cowboys looked in complete control.
That was until fullback Michael Gordon’s try early in the second half triggered an unanswered 24-point onslaught.
Ironically, the two sides meet this time with the Sharks riding a nine-game winning streak and leading the premiership – a scenario that screams “payback” for the Cowboys next Monday night.
It shapes as a tremendous test for both sides; the defending premiers coming off a big win against NRL bunnies Newcastle and Cronulla on a high after a last-gasp 20-18 win over the luckless Bulldogs to keep their streak going.
The clash of packs and rival forwards Cowboys Matt Scott and Jason Taumalolo (pictured) against the likes of Sharks pair Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen will be crucial to the result.
Asked if North Queensland’s forward pack was the best in the NRL, Taumalolo said the question would be answered on Monday night.
“We have a quality pack, I wouldn’t say it’s the strongest but we’re definitely up there. I guess we will see on Monday,” said the young Cowboy, one of the most feared ball-carriers in the games.
Taumalolo will saddle up for his 100th game for the Cowboys, a milestone he wasn’t always confident of reaching.
“I feel like I’m about to retire soon,” the 191cm Auckland-born 23-year-old.
“I had my doubts early in my career but winning a premiership last year changed all that.
“Not many people can say they played 100 games for one club. It will be something special and something I will cherish the rest of my life.”
Cowboys hooker Jake Granville said going up against rival rake Michael Ennis would be a challenge.
Ennis’s leadership has been a huge part in Cronulla’s rise to the top.
“He is very creative around the ruck, he plays short then goes out the back and picks his times to run,” Granville said.
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