Five things we learned from Cowboys v Sharks

Five things we learned from Cowboys v Sharks Written by MARTIN LENEHAN, March 5, 2016

THE Cowboys opened their premiership defence with a hard fought 20-14 win over a gritty Sharks outfit at 1300Smiles Stadium in Townsville. Here’s what RLW learned:

1. Every team needs a tradesman like Ethan Lowe.
The unsung Cowboys back rower scored the match winner in the 74th minute with a determined run from 13 metres out as well as laying on a try with a deft grubber. Lowe also produced a superb cover tackle on Sosaia Feki to deny the Sharks winger a try and made 154 metres in attack. Will never get the same raps as some of his high-profile team-mates but make no mistake, Ethan Lowe is the sort of player every team needs in the trenches.

2. The heat and humidity early in the season will take its toll.
Plenty of players succumbed to cramp and were sucking in the big ones as the temperature hovered around the high 20s all night in Townsville. The Tigers and Warriors had done battle earlier in steamy conditions in Sydney’s west and with more hot weather predicted for the rest of March it will become survival of the fittest and bench players will have huge roles to play.

3. Ben Hannant is an absolute beauty.
Speaking of bench players, the Polar Bear just keeps on keeping on for the premiers. Big Ben has been to the Roosters, the Broncos, the Bulldogs and now the Cowboys and he gives his all in attack and defence. Ultra reliable interchange man who can play plenty of minutes if required and will never let Paul Green down.

4. Jack Bird will shine no matter where he plays.
The 2015 rookie of the year moved from five-eighth to centre to accommodate James Maloney and showed yet again why he is rated a superstar of the future. Bird played 22 games in the No.6 last year but looked more than comfortable in the centres and produced a powerhouse try to get the Sharks back in the game.

5. The Sharks never, ever go away.
Down 14-6 the visitors looked like they might be over run but just as they did throughout 2015 the Sharks dug in for the fight and pushed the Cowboys to the absolute limit. With Wade Graham and Michael Ennis in everything, the Sharks threatened to avenge last year’s finals blowout in Townsville. Even with a minute to go they launched one last raid through Andrew Fifita but a classic ball-and-all tackle from Lachlan Coote snuffed out their challenge.

Cowboys 20 (O’Neill, Linnett, Lowe  tries; Thurston 4 goals) beat Sharks 14 (Townsend, Bird tries; Maloney 3 goals)

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