The Cowboys have booked a preliminary final and are one win away from a chance at the premiership after a golden-point victory over the Sharks.
Jason Taumalolo delivered a mammoth performance while centre Peta Hiku consistently threatened the line a diced the Sharks left-side to score.
Meanwhile, Valentine Holmes iced the game with a 40-metre field goal to seal victory for North Queensland.
Read on for the Cowboys player ratings from their qualifying final against the Sharks.
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1. SCOTT DRINKWATER – 8
Came up with several smart kicks early and showed his class in the first half from the back, slicing through the line and consistently threatening. Delivered when his team needed it most with a smart ball to find a charging Jason Taumalolo to level the score with seconds on the clock. Recorded 185 running metres and 10 tackle breaks to go with a try assist and line break.
2. KYLE FELDT – 7
Carried the ball well out of his own half but didn’t threaten as much as he would have liked on the attacking end. Still a strong performance with 135 running metres and two tackle breaks.
3. VALENTINE HOLMES – 9
Threatened throughout the contest and made his tackles when called upon. Found Murray Taulagi with an impressive pass to score before becoming the hero of the match. From behind the 40-metre line, the former Sharks slotted a two-point field goal to ice the game.
4. PETA HIKU – 9
Carried the ball strong off the back fence early before turning the Sharks’ left-side defence inside out to score an entertaining try. Did lots of heavy lifting and recorded a ridiculous 274 running metres with eight tackle breaks and a try to his name. A finals masterclass.
FINALS PLAYER RATINGS
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5. MURRAY TAULAGI – 7
Strong in the air but didn’t get the chance to show off his attacking skills until the 54th minute, charging onto a smart Holmes pass to display his finishing ability. Carried the ball well out of the back and didn’t make any mistakes.
6. TOM DEARDEN – 7
Went missing early in the first half before erupting with a ridiculous 60-metre solo try to dice Cronulla’s defence from dummy-half against the run of play. Lost the ball on the Sharks line in extra time in strong attacking position. Solid performance overall and looked threatening with ball in hand.
7. CHAD TOWNSEND – 8
Threatened early and spotted Kennedy out of position for the Cowboys’ first try of the night with a deft kick against his former team. Stood up when his team needed it and steered the ship for 92 minutes to show his experience.
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8. JORDAN MCLEAN – 6
Went about his business as per usual. Recorded 64 running metres and 21 tackles and didn’t do anything wrong.
9. REECE ROBSON – 7
A workhorse as always and consistently threatened out of dummy-half. Recorded a ridiculous 53 tackles and 84 running metres. Did exactly what his team needed.
10. REUBEN COTTER – 9
Dangerous as always and did a lot of the heavy lifting in the first 40 minutes. Took his game to a new level in the second half and stayed on the park for 84 minutes in the middle. Chalked up 158 running metres and 48 tackles.
11. LUCIANO LEILUA – 7
Shifted back to the bench but ran the ball hard as always. Continued is his consistent run of form with his new club in 2022 and showed his sleight of hand to spark the Cowboys’ fourth try.
12. JEREMIAH NANAI – 7
Threatened early was solid throughout, staying on the field for the whole 93 minutes of the contest. Didn’t make any major mistakes and put the Cowboys on the front foot.
13. JASON TAUMALOLO – 10
Didn’t have much impact early before a huge cut-out pass sparked the Cowboys’ third try. Worked his way into the game and ended up delivering a mammoth performance with 261 running metres and the game-defining try to take the game to extra time. One of his best performances in a Cowboys jersey.
Came on in the 79th minute and did his job. Injected his pace into the game in his minimal game time.
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15. TOM GILBERT – 6
A Todd Payten masterstroke saw the Maroons backrower start in place of Luciano Leilua. The 22-year-old managed to reel in a Chad Townsend kick, beating Sharks flyer Will Kennedy to the ball and burrow his way to the line and record North Queensland’s first points. Was solid otherwise.
16. COEN HESS – 6
Was strong in the middle of the park but lost the ball in a crucial spot in extra time. Recorded 76 running metres and a tackle break.
17. GRIFFIN NEAME – 4
Came on the field for only eight minutes, making four tackles and taking the ball into the line twice.