“We’ve got a number of players off contract, my goal is for those guys to get into a position so they can get a new contract because that will mean they’re playing well.
“They’re in a good space, they’re a happy group and very connected and clear with what they know works. They executed that game plan perfectly.”
Townsend was excellent with his short kicks and nailed eight from eight. A few of his attempts were not easy and from the same place he botched them against the Raiders.
The only person inside Netstrata Jubilee Stadium who was regretting the Sharks’ game being transferred from the Sunshine Coast because of COVID-19 was the poor ground official working the manual scoreboard.
The official was busy from the fourth minute when Mawene Hiroti crossed for the first points, and struggled to catch his breath by half-time as the Sharks led by 30 points.
The best try came just before the break when a Townsend bomb was tapped back by Matt Moylan. Blayke Brailey picked up the ball and dropped it on to his boot for a flying Connor Tracey to score.
Big Braden Hamlin-Uele sneaking a flick pass for Moylan to score was also a brilliant sight, as was rookie back-rower Teig Wilton bagging his first and deserved try in the big leagues.
North Queensland had been dreadful the first three weeks of the competition – but they sunk to a new low against Cronulla.
They had only about 42 per cent of possession and their completions were ordinary.
New coach Todd Payten has been blunt in his post-match assessments, and was hardly doing cartwheels during this one.
“We made some poor decisions with the ball, which is putting our defence under pressure, and we’re not defending our errors at all – at the moment we’re a team willing to build a game or chase a game,” Payten said.
“We’re low in confidence at the moment and looking to get things done the easy way.”
Josh McGuire, who slammed his side for having a “soft underbelly” and being “embarrassing” last week, was the only Cowboys forward to notch more than 100m.
Payten, however, confirmed McGuire was free to explore his options for next year – it was the club and the player, he said, who agreed to the arrangement – and an immediate release was not necessarily off the table. St George Illawarra have expressed interest in the former Maroons enforcer.
The TV broadcasters will be cringing about somehow having to promote the Cowboys’ round-six clash against Canterbury and the round-14 stoush with Manly.
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.