Blues hopefuls spark Sharks to comeback win
NSW hopefuls Andrew Fifita and James Maloney sparked a second-half comeback to hand Cronulla victory over North Queensland on Thursday night.
Trailing 14-0 at the break, it looked like it was going to take a miracle to get the Sharks over the line in front of a home crowd in the Shire.
Instead it was a barnstorming Fifita who changed the team's fortunes and led them to an 18-14 victory over the Cowboys.
The big prop was inspirational as he ran for 188 metres, made 34 tackles and registered a try assist.
With numbers like those - and a fresh new haircut to boot - Laurie Daley has no excuse not to pick Fifita in his starting NSW pack when the team is announced on Monday.
The Sharks had to overcome a woeful start to score the two points on Thursday.
Cronulla was denied an early try when Sosaia Feki bounced a deft Maloney grubber over the line in the 10th minute.
The Cowboys made them pay in the next set when they marched up the field and Antonio Winterstein dived over in the corner to open the account.
Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt then set up a try and scored one himself to take the visitor's lead to 14-0 by the time the siren blew to signal the break.
The Sharks had completed a dismal nine of 14 sets in the first half and had given the Cowboys plenty of easy ground. It looked like it was going to be a boilover.
Instead, a try to Maloney in the 50th minute swung the momentum in the home side's favour.
Soon after he crossed the paint, it was Fifita who broke the defensive line and produced a class offload to put Chad Townsend over under the posts.
Then a Val Holmes flick to Feki on the wing put the Sharks in front and that's where they stayed.
While Fifita was the star of the show, it was a North Queensland winger who was in all the action in the first half.
Kyle Feldt was electric.
A big individual play from Feldt extended the North Queensland lead before half-time when the big winger brushed his defender, sprinted down the sideline, then threw a perfect ball inside to Ben Hampton to score.
Feldt then scored a superb try of his own when he leapt over opposing winger Feki and plucked the ball out of the air, came down and managed to ground it before being tackled into touch.
Born in Townsville, Feldt is eligible for Queensland and should be in the race alongside the likes of Val Holmes and Corey Oates for a spot on the Maroons' flank.
Fox Sports expert Michael Ennis was more than impressed with Feldt's first half.
"He's almost fallen out of the Origin talk hasn't he?" Ennis said at half-time.
"This time 12 months ago he was in line with Corey Oates to take that vacant position."
Feldt has barely been mentioned in the Origin scuttlebutt this year but Thursday night's performance can't have gone unnoticed up north.