Sharks, Cowboys to reignite finals rivalry

Wade Graham says everything points to another big match when his Sharks again face the Cowboys. (AAP)

The elimination final between Cronulla and North Queensland is the fourth do-or-die NRL play-off between the two clubs in five years.

They must be sick of the sight of each other in the NRL finals.

In the era of superficial rivalries and drummed up head-to-heads, Cronulla and North Queensland can lay claim to something very real.

Sunday's elimination final meeting between the Sharks and Cowboys will mark the fourth meeting between the two sides in a sudden-death final.

In 2013, the Sharks got home at Allianz Stadium off the back of a controversial seventh-tackle try in the first week of the finals.

Two years later, the Cowboys blew Cronulla off the park in Townsville en route to their winning a maiden premiership.

Last year, the Sharks returned the favour with a dominant 14-0 first half to book their grand final date, and eventually their first grand final success.

"I think there is definitely a rivalry," Sharks forward Wade Graham said.

"When you face a team so many times in such big games, you can't help but generate that competitiveness between them."

The rivalry between the two teams is also set up by a see-sawing recent history between the two clubs in the regular season.

Sunday's clash will be the 14th between the two teams in the past five years, with the ledger split at 7-6 in favour of Cronulla.

And according to Graham, the regularity which the past two premiers have met makes it only more difficult to get the edge over each other.

"We probably know what to expect from them and they know what they are going to get from us, which is going to be a tough game from both teams," Graham said.

"Elimination final, everyone is going to leave it out there on the line. It's very exciting to play.

"It really builds up to be a big game doesn't it?"

By following the recent pattern of their finals clashes, the Cowboys are due for a win in Saturday's match.

But stand-in Cowboys captain Gavin Cooper said last year's season-ending loss wouldn't be used as any kind of extra motivation for this weekend

"That was a long time ago, 12 months ago. I really don't think that will be spoken about.

"We've had a couple of good wins against them and also a couple of losses. A little bit of controversy, it makes for a good story."

CRONULLA AND NORTH QUEENSLAND'S FINALS HISTORY

2013: Cronulla 20 bt North Queensland 18, elimination final

Cowboys coach Neil Henry questioned if there was a conspiracy against his club after the Sharks scored a seven-tackle try and held out in a thrilling finish.

2015: North Queensland 39 bt Cronulla 0, semi-final

The Cowboys registered their biggest finals win and barely gave Cronulla a chance as they stated their credentials for a maiden premiership.

2016: Cronulla 32 bt North Queensland 20, preliminary final

The end scoreline didn't represent the Sharks' dominance of this match. The Sharks led 32-6 before they took their foot off the brake and began dreaming of a maiden title.

Source AAP

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