NRL 2019: Shaun Johnson leads Sharks to victory over Cowboys

Former Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson has guided the Cronulla Sharks to a massive 42-16 win over the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.

The New Zealand international claimed two try assists and kicked 7/7 off the tee to help his new club win their second match of the season.

The win came at a cost, as the Sharks lost skipper Paul Gallen to injury in his club record-breaking 329th match.

Gallen left the field late in the first half with a suspected rib injury and did not return, but he moved one game ahead of Sharks great Andrew Ettingshausen's previous mark of 328 first-grade appearances.   

Even without him, the Sharks pack had the upper hand.   

The hosts began Saturday evening's game in Townsville without star lock Jason Taumalolo and it showed after a second-half blitz from Cronulla. The Sharks marched the Cowboys upfield at will, finishing the match with 30 tackle busts to 12.   

The visitors began strongly and turned their possession and pressure advantage into the game's first try, halfback Chad Townsend reaching out, after receiving a perfect Gallen offload close to the line.   

But as the possession turned, so did the game. Cowboys utility forward John Asiata showed impressive footwork to break through the line, before captain Michael Morgan threw an inside pass to prop Jordan McLean, who crashed over the Cronulla defence.   

The Cowboys led shortly after, when Sosaia Feki bungled a Te Maire Martin grubber, allowing the North Queensland fullback to pounce on his own kick.   

But whatever Cronulla coach John Morris said at halftime had immediate impact, as the Sharks returned a different side, shocking the Cowboys with 30 unanswered points.   

Second-rower Briton Nikora jumped on a Shaun Johnson kick, then a blistering run from hooker Jayden Brailey split the defence for Townsend to score his second.

Josh Dugan bashed his way over, centre partner Josh Morris nabbed a double and Blayke Brailey scored on the siren to complete the Cowboys' nightmare.   

North Queensland will host Canberra next Saturday, while Cronulla are away to Parramatta.   

AAP

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