Cronulla have confirmed themselves as NRL title contenders with a memorable 13-10 win over premiers North Queensland at Shark Park on Monday night.

The Sharks faithful have the right to believe that a maiden premiership is within reach following their 10th straight win, which ensured they stayed at the top of the NRL ladder following the tense clash played out in front of 13,119 fans.

NSW will be sweating on the findings of the match review committee with James Tamou and Wade Graham both facing being rubbed out of next week's Origin II in Brisbane.

Tamou was penalised for a shoulder charge on Blues teammate Andrew Fifita, who reacted by throwing the ball at the head of the Cowboys prop.


While Graham, who was on Monday night named to replace Boyd Cordner, collared a falling Johnathan Thurston in a high tackle.

Graham played a blinder and harassed Thurston all night, the forward also came up with a try-saver on Matt Scott.

Neither were put on report but will come under the microscope of the MRC.

On the back of a dodgy knock-on call against Ben Barba, the Cowboys evened it up at 10-10 with a penalty conversion with 14 minutes to go.

However Maloney potted the winning one-pointer in the 74th minute before sealing it with a penalty goal four minutes later.

The Sharks pack was simply more dominant and strangled the Cowboys of field position and possession in the second stanza to set up a potentially season-defining win.

Tamou's shot on Fifita provided the flashpoint for the first half which saw 11 penalties blown in the first 25 minutes and both sets of captains handed a warning by the referees.

The Cowboys hit the front early via Antonio Winterstein thanks to some Sharks ill discipline but a scintillating 90m intercept try from Valentine Holmes ensured the home side went into the break level at 8-8.

Holmes juggled the pass before turning Cowboys fullback inside out several times with some fancy footwork before diving over.

The Sharks had a mountain of possession inside the Cowboys' red zone in the first 20 minutes of the second half but could only manage a penalty conversion to Maloney for all their dominance but did enough to get over the line in a try-less second stanza.