Sharks smash Cowboys 32-20 to claim spot in Grand Final

An absolute blinder from Cronulla's James Maloney has rocketed the Sharks into their first Grand Final in almost 20 years.

He kicked six out of seven goals, scored two brilliant tries - and even passed 200 points for the season in Cronulla's thrashing of North Queensland on Friday night.

His dazzling runaway try in the 66th minute was the final nail in the coffin for the Cowboys' 2016 season, threading through the defence and outrunning the North Queensland backlinen for over half the field.

The Sharks set the tone early at Allianz Stadium, dominating the possession and finding their way over the line multiple times before the Cowboys could even sniff at the scoreboard.

A denied try by Andrew Fifita was the only bump in the road for the Sharks who fought their way to a 32-28win and the chance at the premiership on October 2nd.

If they win, it will be the first title for the club since joining the NRL in 1967.

A late Cowboys fightback in the final five minutes which saw Kyle Feldt and Coen Hess over the line gave a shred of hope to Queensland fans - but it was simply too little too late for the North Queensland unit.

Despite firing in an uncharacteristic forward-pass in the first half, Johnathan Thurston left 2016 in style - giving his headgear to a young Sharks supporter on half time.

The gesture was well received by fans on either side, showing respect for the legendary halfback's class.

COOTE'S WEEK TO FORGET

Lachlan Coote has had a week he'd probably like to forget.

The Cowboys fullback had an absolute shocker in last week's clash against the Broncos, dropping the ball numerous times and copping a beating on social media.

He dropped a regulation catch in the third minute which allowed the Sharks an easy opportunity to set the pace in the first half - but that wasn't his only slip-up which cost North Queensland dearly.

In a terrible lapse of judgement, Coote allowed the Sharks an easy try after waiting too long for the ball to go dead.

He did snag a handy try early in the first half - but by then the momentum was firmly in the Sharks' favour as they cruised towards a win.

Once again, social media was quick to chime in on their opinions of Coote's last fortnight of finals footy.

The second preliminary final between the Melbourne Storm and the Canberra Raiders final will be held at AAMI Park tomorrow night.

- news.com.au

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