Cronulla have overcome a pre-game temperature check drama to claim their first win of the 2020 NRL season.
The Sharks got one over former player Valentine Holmes as they secured a thrilling 26-16 victory over North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday night.
The win came after six members of the Sharks team, including halves Shaun Johnson and Matt Moylan, all failed temperature checks upon arrival at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
All of the players subsequently passed a second test and after withstanding an opening barrage by the Cowboys, the Sharks powered to a deserved five tries to three win.
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.
Green will be eager for his team to bounce back when they play the Warriors at Central Coast Stadium on Friday, while the Sharks face the St George Illawarra at Campbelltown Stadium next Sunday.