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Pat Cummins: ‘Being intimidating is about using body language’ | Sam Perry

The university graduate, who confounds the Australian fast-bowling stereotype as much as he fits it, could light up the upcoming Ashes seriesWhen it comes to Australia’s prodigy rumour mill, no tale slingshots around the country quicker than that of th…

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Cowboys beat Roosters in NRL preliminary final – as it happened

  • Roosters 16-29 Cowboys
  • Cowboys through to the Grand Final after Morgan masterclass

12.48pm BST

Nothing short of a boilover, you’d have to say. The story is about the Cowboys, who are playing with both verve and steel at the most important part of the season. They’re genuinely getting better. Every plaudit you read about Michael Morgan this week will be deserved. It’s well worth forgetting about Johnathon Thurston for a brief second here – Morgan was every inch the superstar of tonight, and you can’t begrudge him his overwhelmingly deserved moment in the spotlight. He drove his team tonight – created nearly everything, kicked brilliantly, made huge tackles, and as they say, he iced the game with a composed field goal to finish off the Roosters.

Let’s deal with the Roosters. They seemed to play without any zip, drive, or enterprise – instead favouring a clinical approach that came up short. Could they have ad libbed a little more?

12.33pm BST

He converts! That’s full time – The Cowboys beat the Roosters 29 – 16. Wow. The Roosters exit with a whimper, the Cowboys just get better. What a story. Some thoughts to follow.

Here was Morgan’s field goal:

Clinical from the @nthqldcowboys.#NRLFinals#NRL

12.30pm BST

It’s a party now! Scott Bolton charges past Guerra, who attempted a one-on-one strip, and he crashes over! Incredible stuff. Lowe will attempt the shot at goal. 80 minutes gone…

12.28pm BST

78 mins: Still the Cowboys’ ball. They’re in total control here. The Roosters offering barely a whimper. 10 metres out, last tackle, and Glanville knocks it in-goal and they’ll get the repeat set! Shallow drop out, and it’s the Cowboys ball. They’re going to the Grand Final!

12.27pm BST

Well orchestrated, Glanville fires it to Morgan on the last, and he slots it under a bit of pressure! That should do it, you’d think. Only three minutes to go now. Morgan is a hero.

12.25pm BST

75 mins: Gordon drops it! They were 40 metres out, there was no pressure on him, and he drops it cold! They’ve been cautious all night, the Roosters, and North Queensland should be able to work it into a good field goal position.

12.24pm BST

74 mins: They set for a drop goal, North Queensland. Morgan is closed down, so he fires to Coote, who chips into the in-goal. It holds up, holds up, but Ferguson just shepherds it over. The Roosters will get the ball. Inches in it.

12.23pm BST

73 mins: Another good run from Taumololo gets North Queensland on the front foot. It goes through the hands before a grubber toward the posts. Tupou takes it, tries to stand up and he’s driven back in goal! Drop out Roosters!

12.21pm BST

71 mins: Taumololo gets up clutching his shoulder. He carries on. Morgan tries to kick it dead on the last but it bounces on its end and Ferguson has to bring it out. Nearly slips away too. They need to chance their arm here, the Roosters.

12.19pm BST

A look at the Feldt try

The finisher does it again!

Try @feldt092.#NRLFinals#NRL

12.19pm BST

The Cowboys lead by a converted try now, a huge turnaround. Ten minutes to go.

12.18pm BST

69 mins: And now a penalty to the Cowboys! It’s a strip. Cordner and Waerea-Hargreaves the culprits. Lowe will have a shot at goal. An easy one, just to the right of the uprights. Adjacent to the posts, as they’d say.

12.17pm BST

68 mins: Mitchell kicks it out on the full! Again! Straight from the kickoff. Dead in-goal. Unbelievable stuff here. Penalty Cowboys, they’ll get another shot at the Roosters’ line.

12.16pm BST

He converts! Roosters 16 – 20 Cowboys

The toughest kick in the game. Right foot, right touchline, he swings it in!

12.15pm BST

They just don’t stop, these Cowboys! Again, Morgan directs them towards the Roosters left edge. The Roosters looked set as the ball went through the hands, but Feldt had a little space and you’d have to say he overpowered Mitchell to slam the ball down with one hand. Did Mitchell give Feldt too much room? Probably. Lowe from the sideline now…

12.13pm BST

Is that a try? They sweep across field, it comes to Feldt – it’s a one-on-one between Feldt and Mitchell, and it’s a ridiculously close one between Feldt, the ball, the corner post and the sideline. It looks good – but it’s so, so, close. Does the point hit the ground first? Or the ‘fat’ part hit the sideline? I think it’s a try.

12.11pm BST

64 mins: Does O’Neill atone? He hits Ferguson low and hard and the Rooster coughs it up! The Cows are 20 metres out now, and Morgan picks it up on the half-volley. Of course he does. Centre field, four tackles left…

12.10pm BST

62 mins: Was that the boost, or the luck, the Roosters needed? Plenty of time left for the Cowboys to come back into it – it’s only two points after all. The Roosters march all the way down field and a mini-bomb from Keary leaves the Cowboys 98 metres from home after Coote takes the ball.

12.08pm BST

Totally against the run of play here. Crucial error from O’Neill, that one will hurt. The ball slipped from his grasp pre-contact in the tackle, and Taukeiaho shovelled it to Aubusson, who in-turn gave it to Ferguson. Too much power, and he went over. A try from an error. Can the Cowboys come back again?

12.06pm BST

Is this a try? O’Neill spills it, the Roosters spread it straight away and Ferguson goes over. They’re going to the video to check the put down. There’s no problem.

12.05pm BST

58 mins: Couldn’t be more even, this. Just as the Roosters started to exert some dominance, the Cowboys – as ever – respond. It really is anyone’s match, and I’d venture it will come down to playmaker decisions. So far, Morgan is man of the match by streets. He’s everywhere, and here puts up an ‘inside out’ torpedo that’s well taken by Michael Gordon.

12.02pm BST

Goal! Roosters 12 – 14 Cowboys

Lowe swings it in from the right side, about 15 metres in from touch. Cowboys back in from. This match rising to a crescendo here.

12.01pm BST

And they’re over. Straight after Taumololo’s run, Morgan gets the ball close to the line, has multiple runners outside him, throws the cutout pass and finds Linnett, who just slid to the outside of his defender and crashed over. Outstanding timing on the pass from Morgan there, who is having a brilliant game so far.

11.59am BST

54 mins: Taumololo, who’s enjoyed a spell on the sidelines, is back on now. He surges forward straight away and almost breaks the line…

11.59am BST

52 mins: A low, driving kick from Morgan nearly grabs a forty-twenty for his side but Gordon’s there to retrieve it. Meanwhile, Michael Morgan has been opened up and blood is positively pouring from his eye, courtesy of a Michael Gordon forearm. Actually a good opportunity for him to put a head bandage on. Every team needs one come finals time.

11.55am BST

48 mins: But an error from Ferguson working the ball out, who looked to be taken high. He spills it, and hands the Cowboys six tackles in good position. Quick hands from the Cowboys almost gives Winterstein a bit of space but he’s reeled in. A grubber toward the posts (the Cowboys like that play) then ricochets dangerously before the Roosters dive on it, and work it out of their end as normal.

11.53am BST

Goal! Roosters 12 – 8 Cowboys

Low and hard from Gordon, and straight through. The Roosters take the lead for the first time in the match.

11.52am BST

TRY! Roosters 10-8 Cowboys (Watson 46)

All Pearce here. 40 metres out, he takes it to the line, shows it inside, makes the defence hesitate, and sends Cordner through on the outside. Cordner draws Coote easily and gives it to the utility Connor Watson, who crosses the line. Brilliant from Mitchell Pearce there. Well backed up from Watson.

11.50am BST

45 mins: Quieter moment in the game as the Roosters work it forward, just settling into the next phase of the match now.

11.48am BST

43 mins: Great take from Keary, who dived low to intercept a Michael Morgan grubber that was in-goal bound. Replays show a slight bobble, but it was so infinitesimal as to deceive as all. The Roosters put together another solid set and the Cowboys work it out in-turn.

11.47am BST

No try. Joey was right. Latrell Mitchell ran the wrong angle, blocked his Cowboys counterpart, and it’ll be a penalty to the North Queensland side.

11.46am BST

41 mins: The Roosters are over, or are they? Ryan Matterson is over in the corner – he kicks the ball skyward in aggressive celebration – but Andrew Johns is sure there’s an obstruction. Let’s see.

11.45am BST

40 mins: Cowboys error straight away! Coen Hess drops the ball from the first hit-up of the half, handing the Roosters a great chance straight away.

11.36am BST

A look at Latrell Mitchell’s try too

Mitchell snatches the ball as the defence lets it go!#NRLFinals#NRL

11.35am BST

Well, the Cowboys roll on! They held the upper hand for the majority of the half; one largely played fairly conservatively from both sides.

Both dared the other to blink first in the cautious opening exchanges, with seven completed sets each before the first error. It was Morgan, who has been excellent so far, who fed Te Maire Martin who was able to skip outside Napa and deceive Pearce enough to evade his clutches, break the line and speed his way under the posts. It was reward enough for the visitors, who seemed fractionally more creative in attacking situations, with the Glanville-Morgan duo leading proceedings.

Hear from @michaelmorgan00 at HT of #NRLRoostersCowboys.#NRLFinals#NRL

11.27am BST

39 mins: A late Cowboys raid on the line comes to nothing after Glanville slipped a neat little ball inside. The tackle’s made, and that’s half-time. Some thoughts to follow.

11.26am BST

GOAL! Roosters 6-8 Cowboys

A very good kicker, Michael Gordon. He slots this about 10m in from touch. Was straight all the way.

11.25am BST

TRY! Roosters 4-8 Cowboys (Mitchell 37)

And the Roosters are over! Keary with the bomb toward the left side; Linnett tried to block Mitchell but then left his assignment. Mitchell evaded him then deftly took it in the corner to scoot over.

11.23am BST

33 mins: Morgan pushes the short pass about 20m out but it’s forward, and it’s dropped, and it’s more relief for the Roosters. They then get the relieving piggy-back

penalty, to the background of ironic cheers from the Roosters faithful. They’ll get a look the Cowboys line here.

11.19am BST

30 mins: But the Roosters drop it! The Cowboys back on the march again. They’ve disorganised the Roosters defence again here, and some broken play leads to Morgan chipping the ball toward the posts. It misses, but has Pearce made a play at it? Referee Sutton says drop-out, and it’s not overruled by the video. Another set for the men from Townsville.

11.17am BST

27 mins: The Cowboys roll downfield again and get a repeat set. Wouldn’t say the Roosters are on the ropes yet, but the Cowboys are dominating.

The Cowboys spread left and threaten the line again, but the ball hits the deck. A rest for the Roosters, who’ll work it out from their own line.

11.14am BST

GOAL! Roosters 0-8 Cowboys

Ethan Lowe adds the extras. The Roosters jittery here, the Cowboys playing with freedom.

11.12am BST

TRY! Roosters 0-6 Cowboys (Martin 22)

It was Morgan to Te Maire Martin, who stuttered, offered the show-and-go, and a terrible grab at air from Pearce allowed him through. Napa was the inside man and Martin got outside him with ease. He’s quick, the five-eighth, and he arced his way under the posts in a flash. Will soon be 8-0.

11.09am BST

21 mins: And the Roosters’ kick off is over the dead ball line on the full! They advance it up field and a rolled-in grubber grabs them a repeat set. Mitchell’s drop-out is long, but the Cowboys will get a good shot here.

11.08am BST

Goal! Cowboys 2 – 0 Roosters
21 mins: Lowe kicks it. Easy as you like. We have points.

11.06am BST

20 mins: A Waerea-Hargreaves high tackle gives the Cowboys a penalty. It’s 15 metres out from the Cowboys line and next to the posts. The Cowboys will take the two.

11.01am BST

14 mins: Pearce tries a second man play about 40m out with Keary the receiver. It’s beautifully read by that man Morgan and he smashes Keary ball and all. He’s started well, the Cowboys playmaker.

10.59am BST

12 mins: Still relatively risk-free here. Both sides going one-out, two-out from dummy half. No real incision. Everyone making their tackles. The Roosters probably shading it at the ruck – they seem to be achieving that roll-on with a little more ease than their opponents.

Both sides perfect through 10 minutes – feeling each other out.

Follow #NRLRoostersCowboys on the League Live app:

10.57am BST

9 mins: The Roosters recover and engineer some field position to allow another bomb for Pearce. This time it’s intended for Ferguson. He charges onto it and momentarily gathers it mid-air, but he can’t hang on to it under defensive pressure. Another change over The Roosters making fairly comfortable metres, though haven’t properly threatened yet.

No penalties or real mistakes either, which means one must be coming.

10.56am BST

7 mins: The Cowboys attack the left side for a couple of plays, but it comes to nought. O’Neill briefly wrestles with Aubusson but the latter repels him from the line. Glanville then tries to stab one of those grubbers in from dummy half, about a metre out, but the kick’s blocked by Aubusson’s deliberately outstretched foot. It rebounds into O’Neill’s arms but he spills the reflex attempt. Changeover.

Really hate to do this, but having just watched Richmond storm into the AFL Grand Final, it’s hard not to notice the markedly different atmosphere’s in these otherwise equivalent games. The SFS feels quiet.

10.52am BST

6 mins: Forty-twenty for the Cowboys! It’s Morgan. He caught the Roosters napping there, skimming one low and hard into the right touchline. They’re on the attack.

10.51am BST

5 mins: The Roosters with a slight territorial advantage here, allowing Pearce to hoist a few bombs from midfield, thought easily defused by the Cowboys back three. Cagey start, you’d say.

10.50am BST

4 mins: The Cowboys try to spin in wide on the fourth. It comes to nothing. Morgan’s fifth tackle roost is charged down, but it falls safely to Coote. He checks to see whether there’s six more – there’s not – and he gets his kick away. All very safe.

10.48am BST

2 mins: The Cowboys respond with a stead set of their own. They complete it with Morgan kicking to the right corner. Has Feldt picked up a leg injury? More on that as it comes to hand. Andrew Johns seems to think so…

10.47am BST

We’re away – the Roosters running towards the SCG, the Cowboys toward Paddington RSL. Both are likely to be there later on, regardless of the result. Strong, steady first set from the Roosters.

10.45am BST

Crowd Watch

Judging from this tweet, we can probably expect further media conniptions over Sydney’s preparedness to turn out for big matches. That whole upper tier is bare!

Kick-off is approaching!!! #NRLRoostersCowboys

10.39am BST


Sydney Roosters

The Roosters will be aiming for their seventh Grand Final appearance this century.#IMAROOSTER #NRLFinals #NRLRoostersCowboys

10.30am BST

Hello all, and a huge thanks for joining me here as we settle in for the second preliminary final (these used to be called ‘Final’) from Allianz Stadium (from here referred to as the SFS) between the Roosters and the Cowboys.

At the risk of spinning wildly into cliché, there’s a clear favourite-underdog prism here. The tri-colours finished high on the ladder, have had the week off, and will take the field with that double-edged sword of freshness as they attempt to book their place in next week’s decider. They’re a settled side, bolstered by an Origin-heavy, monster pack led by Jared Waerea-Hargreves, Dylan Napa and Boyd Cordner. Their resurrection this year has largely occurred on the back of Mitchell Pearce’s steady influence, and his combination with Luke Keary tonight will go a long way to deciding the contest. In short, the Roosters are as ready and primed as they could have hoped for.

Nth Qld Cowboys were putting in the hard yards at training today in preparation for their minor preliminary semi-final against Easts. #NRL

1.25am BST

Sam will be along shortly. In the meantime, have a read of how the Melbourne Storm booked their place in the 2017 grand final last night:

Related: Storm flex muscles in crushing win over Broncos to book place in NRL grand final

Continue reading…

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Cowboys beat Sharks in NRL elimination final – as it happened

  • Sharks 14-Cowboys 15
  • Cowboys win thriller after field goal in extra time

9.30am BST

North Queensland 15 – Cronulla 14

A thrilling, draining game of finals football at the SFS sees North Queensland survive and Cronulla exit. It’s still surprising to think that Cronulla are going home after dominating the majority of the match, but North Queensland clung on through a lack of Cronulla ruthlessness, some luck, and some inspiration from their talismen, Taumololo and Morgan.

All smiles!#NRLFinals#NRL

9.20am BST

A boilover here at the SFS! North Queensland emerge victors in extra time after largely trailing all match, and the Sharks season is over! Some thoughts to follow.

9.18am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 0:34 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Field goal range after Maloney makes a half break. They’re about 30 metres out trying to set it up. The noise rising from the crowd. The ball goes to Fifita and he comes up with the error! He coughed the ball up, he lost it. And that will just about do it for North Queensland!

9.13am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 1:23 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Morgan goes for touch again. Gould says ‘no’ x8 times. Clock stops. The Sharks – just over a minute to go, they’ve got 70 metres to go. They go wide early. Tackled.

9.12am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 2:02 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Solid from the Cowboys. Morgan drills it into the corner. They need to make something happen, Cronulla. They’re 38 out and Lewis goes for the corner – no field goal attempt? Two minutes to go.

9.11am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 3:40 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

Can Cronulla make their way out? Gallen makes a good run. So does Lewis. Good kick from Maloney. Cowboys have it 15 from their own line.

9.09am BST

NRL: 2nd half extra time 4:54 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 15

First time they’ve had the lead, North Queensland. They kick off. Draining stuff, this.

9.09am BST

Last play before 1st half of extra time and Morgan lands the field goal! He was 10 metres out, nails it, and that will be extra time. Five to go.

9.07am BST

NRL: 1st half extra time 2:03 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

More good defence from the Sharks. Morgan bombs from 35 metres out, Holmes takes it and is away! He steps off the right foot, loses his balance, and Holmes loses the ball! Replays show Coote got a hand in. Cowboys 40 metres out, six tackles.

9.05am BST

NRL: 1st half extra time 3:01 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

But Lewis loses the ball. He wasn’t expecting it, there was a bobble, and North Queensland come up with it. Scrum feed and they’ve got 80 metres to go.

9.04am BST

NRL: 1st half extra time 4:32 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

Sharks on top defensively. Was that a forward pass from Morgan? No. But then Te Maire Martin throws a forward pass. Sharks have a play the ball 45 metres out. Good range. Try or field goal? We’ll see.

9.03am BST

A reminder…

Five minutes of extra time each way, and if it’s even, then we go to golden point.

What a game #NRLSharksCowboys

9.01am BST

They clawed their way back in, North Queensland. Cronulla had a chance to win it at the end but Gallen, playing for the penalty(?), squandered it.

Will be a Sharks kick-off, Cowboys first use.

9.00am BST

NRL: 2nd half 1:54 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 14

Good defensive set from Cronulla. Holmes takes it on the full and sprints to his forty. Might be in range for a shot at field goal here. Still getting closer. Here it comes. Maloney’s charged down! They get six more. Gallen charges and goes close. He reaches out, he’s not close enough, then he loses the ball! They were one metre out, and he’s lost it! Cowboys ball.

8.57am BST

In the event of scores level at full time…

There’ll be five minutes of extra time each way before golden point. Let’s see.

8.56am BST

Lowe converts. It’s all square here.

8.55am BST

Penalty Cowboys

Right in front of the posts. Strip was the call. Replays show he just lost it cold. The Cowboys will take the two.

8.54am BST

NRL: 2nd half 4:30 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

More drama! The Cowboys, on the last, grubber low for the posts. Fifita tries to intercept it but succeeds only in knocking it on! Six more for the Cowboys. They’re coming hard here.

8.53am BST

NRL: 2nd half 6:36 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

High tackle Luke Lewis. Penalty Cowboys.

8.51am BST

NRL: 2nd half 6:52 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

Coote drops the ball after a sweeping backline move saw him with a 3-on-2. He goes one-handed and spills it. Leutele could have scooted away but dropped in himself. The Sharks are in midfield (to use union parlance), on the halfway line, and they stab it into touch. Curious move. Cowboys with the ball 10 out from their own line. Cronulla ahead by two. Just over seven minutes left.

8.49am BST

NRL: 2nd half 9:34 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

No dice for the Cowboys; their last tackle kick was a poor grubber easily taken by Cronulla in the field of play. Townsend gets a long kick away after a good defensive set from North Queensland, and it all feels very even.

I can’t watch @Cronulla_Sharks #NRLSharksCowboys

8.47am BST

NRL: 2nd half 11:45 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

Massive tackle from Granville sees Bird spill the ball and North Queensland have six tackles, 35 metres out from Cronulla’s line.

8.46am BST

This was Taumololo’s try earlier

One JT out.

The other JT produces a herculean effort to score!#NRLFinals#NRL

8.45am BST

NRL: 2nd half 13:37 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

Line break. The Cowboys had Cronulla pinned in their own area again before a Gallen offload gave Graham some space and he was clean through. Showed great pace for a second rower too. He kept it alive before it was shovelled to Bird who, unbalance and mid-losing the ball, put a grubber through that rolled dead. Breathtaking stuff.

8.43am BST

NRL: 2nd half 14:56 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 12

The Cowboys make 70 metres their bomb is taken by Feki.

8.42am BST

Game on!

8.41am BST

What a try from Taumololo, inspirational stuff. We looked at replays of tattooed arms and legs but we saw the point of the ball on the ground. Reminiscent of Fifita in the GF last year. Kick to come, should be an easy one.

8.40am BST

Going to the screen! Possible North Queensland try!

BARNSTORMING run from Taumololo sees him carry about five Sharks players over the line. The referee calls try and we’re having a look. It looks good!

8.39am BST

NRL: 2nd half 20:01 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 6

Fortunate for North Queensland. Te Maire Martin takes the ball to the line and pops a ball blind to no one in particular. Bird looks for an intercept but knocks it on. It means another set for North Queensland.

8.37am BST

NRL: 2nd half 21:23 remaining Cronulla 14 – North Queensland 6

Do the Sharks fans have an official trumpeter? I can hear one through the TV. Seems incongruous with everything League is about. Anyway, a classic controlled set from the Sharks after their fortunate try. Townsend kicks for the corner and finds touch. The Cowboys look fractionally deflated.

8.34am BST

A look at Bird’s try

The @Cronulla_Sharks extend their lead after @JackBird_1 pounces on a grubber!#NRLFinals#NRL

8.34am BST

Great kick from Maloney on the right touchline, swings back beautifully.

8.33am BST

Chad Townsend put through the grubber, and it puts even further scrutiny on the Leuteli incident earlier. Replays show a Cowboys player kneeing the ball in the tackle so there was a little interference, but as Tim Rogers once sung, How Much Is Enough?

Kick to come.

8.32am BST

To the screen! Possible Sharks try

Looks it, too. The Sharks surge down field, put a grubber through about twenty out and Bird flies on to the ball and grounds it. This will be a try.

8.30am BST

NRL: 2nd half 28:43 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 6

Maloney returns to an far more even contest now. The Sharks try to slither through some space on the left touchline but Feki can’t beat Feldt and he’s flung over the sideline. Bit more of a spring in their step,the Cowboys. Some huge defence sees the Sharks battling desperately to get out of their own 20. And on the last they concede a penalty! Leuteli makes a decent charge and looks to milk one by dropping it. Referee calls ‘strip’ and the Sharks are on the attack. Wow, small margins.

8.27am BST

And Lowe’s miss

Lowe swings it wide and the @nthqldcowboys trail by 2.#NRLSharksCowboys 8-6 after 50 minutes.#NRLFinals #NRL

8.27am BST

A look at the Cowboys’ try

The @nthqldcowboys find space on the edge!#NRLFinals#NRL

8.26am BST

Lowe misses

Tough kick – right footer on the right touchline, and he hooks it badly – missing to the left. Second rowers kicking is still very fun though.

8.25am BST

They make the most of the advantage! A long, looping ball from Morgan leaves Feldt with enough space to finish in the corner. Feki made an effort to bundle him out but Feldt’s too big, too strong. Double cut-out from Morgan; good option. Can Lowe even it up?

8.23am BST

NRL: 2nd half 33:12 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

Holmes breaks the line 40 metres out but Coote hauls him down. The Cowboys survive after a grubber makes its way in goal but is rushed out. Maloney’s nearly back but the Cowboys are on the charge.

8.21am BST

NRL: 2nd half 35:00 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

Cronulla solid again as Graham grubbers into the corner on the last. As the Cowboys go forward, it’s Morgan who nearly sends Coote through in the centre of the park with a jinking run and hand off before a highish shot from Holmes brings Coote down. Graham hammered Morgan high too, replays show.

Best photo! Sent to the bin for ill-discipline. Clearly the motivational quotes are working a treat down at the shire #NRLSharksCowboys

8.18am BST

NRL: 2nd half 38:10 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

They drop it. Second man play and the ball ends up with Winsterstein who took a hard straight line and it bounces off his chest. Demoralising stuff. The Sharks work it out now. A little hush around the ground.

8.16am BST

NRL: 2nd half 39:02 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 2

‘The Sharks have only scored four tries in their last five games in the second half’, says Phil Gould. Can the Cowboys reverse the momentum of the match and make a fast start? They’ll need to be far better than they were in the first half. And some luck! A good set followed by a bomb sees Wade Graham knock the ball on. Attacking set, full backline, 15 metres out.

8.13am BST

James Maloney in the sin-bin

Apologies for the omission earlier- James Maloney will spend the first 9 and a half minutes of the second half in the sin-bin after a professional foul on Ethan Lowe. The Cowboys winger was deemed to be impeded by Maloney when going for the ball with a try scoring opportunity beckoning, so Maloney will have a twenty minute half time break.

James Maloney goes to the sin-bin as Cronulla lead North Queensland 8-2 at the SFS. #NRLSharksCowboys #NRLFinals

James Maloney is a grub

8.03am BST

North Queensland will be absolute rapt to head to the sheds a try down. They were sloppy and wasteful next to Cronulla’s power and control. A big half time for Paul Green. I’m off for a coffee and will be back for the second half shortly.

Arrive at the brand-new SFS early today to receive your free Andrew Ettingshausen Tazo! #NRLSharksCowboys

8.01am BST

The Cowboys opt for the shot and Ethan Lowe makes no mistake.

7.53am BST

NRL: 1st half 5:10 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Relative stability here sees a few completed sets from both teams, have North Queensland finally settled? They’ve been better these last ten minutes, even if they’re still lacking penetration. Gould comments that the Sharks have them in a ‘vice-like grip’.

The Sharks are pretty grubby today along with the luck the referees are giving them, it’s their game to lose. #NRLFinals #NRLSharksCowboys

7.50am BST

NRL: 1st half 8:34 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Knock on 10m from their own line gives Cronulla a chance to extend their lead. The Cowboys feel ready for the taking but then Leutele coughs it up! Decent defence from North Queensland but the errors stacking up now.

This game turning into a afl match. No 1 is holding on to the footy! Knock-ons galore #NRLSharksCowboys #NRLFinals

7.47am BST

NRL: 1st half 10:08 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

And every time Cronulla get it they just roll forward at will.

7.44am BST

NRL: 1st half 13:53 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Cronulla looking like they belong in week 2 of the finals, the Cowboys anything but. They seem to have no direction, no method for opening up Cronulla, and they’re making a number of low-percentage plays – the latest of which sees the ball go through the hands on the last, and results in the winger Feldt kicking the ball out on the full. They get a penalty soon after though, because that’s what happens.

7.41am BST

NRL: 1st half 17:32 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Another penalty to North Queensland! Offside against Gallen. Standard. But fast-arriving defence results in the ball coughed up on the first tackle, and the Sharks will work their way out. Phil Gould opines that ‘you can’t keep throwing long passes if the defence is rushing up!’ The accompanying replays show the Cowboys making short passes.

The inclusion of Jack Bird has made a huge difference to this Sharks team #NRLFinals

7.38am BST

NRL: 1st half 18:45 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

Prior laying all over the play the ball gives North Queensland another set close to the line. They take the tap…

7.37am BST

NRL: 1st half 21:08 remaining Cronulla 8 – North Queensland 0

And another penalty for Cronulla to get them away from their red zone and they’re on the attack. Cross field bomb and the Cowboys survive. They need something to change the run of play here. Penalties normally do the trick, but they don’t get one. They do however get an error from Valentine Holmes! Morgan kicks on the fifth and Holmes is done by a leg-breaking bounce. The Cowboys get a chance.

Penalty goal to @jim_jim86!#NRLSharksCowboys 8-0 after 18 minutes.#NRLFinals#NRL

7.34am BST

Easy for Maloney.

7.34am BST

NRL: 1st half 24:12 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Scott Bolton has the ball stripped by Jayden Brailey of the Sharks – huge play – and Brailey subsequently earns a penalty! All Sharks here. They’ll take the shot for two and Maloney should make no mistake.

7.32am BST

NRL: 1st half 25:42 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Percentage stuff from the Sharks. Good set, kick to corner. They look controlled. The Cows by comparison seem far more error-prone. They seem patternless and rudderless.

7.30am BST

NRL: 1st half 27:43 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Cursory penalty to North Queensland now as they work their way out of their half. It’s Fifita who concedes it. His tattoos stretch all the way down the outside of his left leg. Maybe they go up the entire left hand side of his body. Anyway, the Cowboys squander their advantage via a huge forward pass from Glanville early in the set. The Sharks march forward.

7.27am BST

NRL: 1st half 30:15 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Further pressure from North Queensland, attacking the Sharks’ left edge close to the goal line. Morgan tries a second man play but huge defence stops them crashing over. Coote tries to grubber through but he jams the ball into the ground and it comes to nought.

I’m only interested in the Fifita leg tat descriptions.

7.23am BST

NRL: 1st half 34:15 remaining Cronulla 6 – North Queensland 0

Good return set from the Cowboys after early Cronulla dominance. They leave the Sharks deep in the corner of their own defensive end but…penalty. Lying on the play the ball. The Sharks get a piggy back out of there.

Vision of the @Cronulla_Sharks Try Decision in the 3rd minute of #NRLSharksCowboys.#NRLFinals #NRL

7.21am BST

Chad Townsend with the four pointer. Converted by Maloney 15 metres in from touch.

7.19am BST

Going to the screen! Possible try to Cronulla

Townsend puts up the bomb, Winterstein takes it well inside the field of play but is rushed back in goal by Lewis and Bird. In attempting to ground the ball inside the field of play (why?) he loses possession of the ball. Question is whether he grounded it in his own in-goal, and it looks like he doesn’t. The Sharks will draw first blood!

7.16am BST

NRL: 1st half 38:00 remaining Cronulla 0 – North Queensland 0

The Cowboys kick off and they’ll run toward the SCG, the Sharks to Paddington. One of these teams might end up at the Paddington RSL after this, actually. Sharks get the early territorial advantage after a few completed sets.

7.15am BST

The players are out there.

8th vs 5th, Cowboys to kick off. Someone’s season ends in two hours. Looks to be around 18,000 in attendance. Obviously that will end up being around 27,000.

7.11am BST

Shame we won’t be able to see this guy today

JT chats #CAM356 and #NRLSharksCowboys!#NRLFinals#NRL

7.10am BST

Looks like we’ll have one of those (lower-tier) packed houses.

Shark attack #NRLSharksCowboys

7.09am BST

The SFS is sunny

Here’s a run of pics from around the ground.

#GoCows #NRLFinals #NRLSharksCowboys

7.05am BST

Good morning, afternoon and evening all, and welcome to a special, Rugby League-laden edition of the Guardian’s Sportwatch.

Today we bring you coverage from the last of this weekend’s Finals fixtures, as the reigning premiers of 2016, Cronulla, take on the 2015 winners, North Queensland, in a sudden death battle. (In a weak protest at the now-accepted description of teams by the mascots and not their locales, I will continue to refer to both as ‘Cronulla’ and ‘North Queensland’. Sorry NRL)

5.41am BST

Sam will be here shortly. Here’s Matt Cleary on the finals lineup, in case you missed it:

Related: Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters the only NRL teams still standing

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Queensland look to Johnathan Thurston to get back on State of Origin script | Sam Perry

There were signs of desperation in the Maroons’ opening performance but with their talisman back for Game II in Sydney, any NSW concern should be justified

In State of Origin, it’s common practice to explain one team’s triumph through the prism of the game’s tiny, innocuous moments. Not, as is probably the case, because one has far better players than the other.

Listen to certain pundits on Channel Nine enough, and you’ll note that Queensland has largely trounced NSW for the best part of a decade because ‘they’re first to dive on the loose ball’, because ‘they play the last five minutes harder than the first’, and so on. That Queensland do this is both true and admirable, but this explanation presupposes that the gap between both sides is so infinitesimal that the inches prove the difference. If only Gal had dived on more balls, maybe Queensland wouldn’t have won eight straight.

Related: ‘So much bigger than everything else’: the religion that is State of Origin in Queensland | Joe Gorman

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