Shaun Johnson overcame a pre-match scare to lead the Cronulla Sharks to a 26-16 win over North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.

Johnson was one of six Sharks players who failed their initial temperature test, which are required as part of the NRL's coronavirus precautions before the match at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

But after a successful second check the players were permitted to play, with NZ international Johnson finishing the match with three try assists.

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It comes after three Roosters players and the Broncos' Brodie Croft also failed tests with bulky headphones and beanies being blamed for the failures.

Reportedly all players passed the test but it raises questions as to what the contingency plan is for players if a large group of players from the same team fail the test.

Post-match, Sharks skipper Wade Graham said it may have been a "stitch up" speculating over whether the Cowboys staff may have cranked the heat up in a bit of lighthearted banter with Fox League.

But before the game, the Fox League team admitted they were unsure of the protocols if a large group of players are ruled out of a match.

"It gets postponed surely," Ben Ikin said. "You can't award a victory to the Cowboys based on the Sharks not being able to field a team. There's got to be something in the protocols, we don't have them in front of us, but it's high drama. The other thing is how it affects the Sharks preparation."

With Chad Townsend injured and Johnson one of the potential players out, Michael Ennis said it was "diabolical" and that "John Morris may have to lace up the boots, he's only been out for a couple of years."

Ben Ikin said: "We might have time to get you up there".

Ennis checked his phone and said there was nothing there, to which Yvonne Sampson quipped "they don't want you, they'd rather forfeit".


Post-match, Sharks coach John Morris saw the lighter side of the nervous moment.

"They were dropping like flies, it was kind of like trying to get into a nightclub without your ID," he said. "They were all getting turned away, I was like 'what's going on', I was going to have to pull the boots on."

It was a nervous moment before the match which has extra meaning for the first match between the Sharks and former star Valentine Holmes.

Centre Jesse Ramien, the player of the match, and winger Ronaldo Mulitano scored doubles for the Sharks with Briton Nikora also notching a four-pointer for the visitors.

Kyle Feldt grabbed a double of his own for the Cowboys, including a 75m breakaway effort in the second half, with Justin O'Neill the other tryscorer for the home team.

Both teams also had tries denied by the bunker, with Ramien having an effort scratched just before halftime while a potentially vital effort by Esan Masters in the second half for the Cowboys was ruled out after the officials spotted a knock-on by Shane Wright.

Holmes, facing the Sharks for the first time since he walked out on the club in 2018 to pursue an ultimately unsuccessful NFL career, could only manage 101 running metres and made three errors in a quiet display.

Cowboys coach Paul Green will lament his team's sloppy performance, completing just 24 of 41 sets while making 18 errors to the Sharks' nine.

Already without wrecking-ball forward Jason Taumalolo due to a knee injury, the Cowboys also lost Mitchell Dunn (concussion) and John Asiata (knee) in the first half to leave them two short on the interchange bench.