Cowboys coach lashes NRL Bunker backflip
The Cronulla Sharks have shown up Valentine Holmes' new team the North Queensland Cowboys in a 26-16 win at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
It's the Sharks' first win of the season and an important one for coach John Morris, who was reportedly under some pressure from his sides' performances.
But with the final scoreline in place from the 60th minute, the Cowboys had a chance to hit back.
With 16 minutes left after an end-to-end game, North Queensland centre Esan Marsters came down with the ball after a pinpoint bomb.
The referee sent it upstairs and awarded it a try.
Needing conclusive evidence to overturn it, the Bunker said Shane Wright had touched the ball
"I think Esan Marsters just catches the ball," Greg Alexander said. "I didn't think there was ever a problem with that."
But the Bunker had another idea, saying Wright had touched the ball.
Dan Ginnane said: "Oh my goodness, wow. The drama continues." as the red "no try" light came up.
Fox Sports sideline reporter Brent Tate said the game had had everything.
"It's been the good the bad and the ugly, I was going to say that they'd tear the place down if there was some people here but I think they've probably got it right," he said.
Cowboys coach Paul Green was less than impressed with the decision.
"I thought it was a try, it was like they were looking for reasons to take it off him," he said in the post-match press conference. "I thought that whole captain's challenge needs to be tidied up and when Esan lost that ball, we wanted to challenge it. The ref just wouldn't accept the challenge and ended up apologising to Macca (captain Jordan McLean) about it. That's a big turnaround."
While the Cowboys were also their own worst enemies with a horror 59 per cent completion rate, finishing just 23 of the 39 sets the team, making 17 errors with the coach calling it "frustrating".
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 as well as Marsters' disallowed try.
"It wasn't pretty, but a win's a win for us at this point of our season," Sharks coach John Morris said.
"I'm just real proud of the boys that they kept their nose in front and a really good commitment in defence.
"They worked real hard for each other and took away a valuable two points for our season."
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.
The hosts, who were already coming into the game without wrecking ball forward Jason Taumalolo (knee) and Coen Hess (ankle), lost two more forwards in the opening half.
Backrower Mitchell Dunn failed a head injury assessment while John Asiata didn't feature in the second half after injuring a knee late in the first term. Frustrated Cowboys coach Paul Green admitted his team's crucial mistakes had proven costly.
- with AAP
Originally published as Cowboys coach lashes Bunker backflip