NORTH Queensland's NRL premiership defence is over after the Cowboys slumped to a 32-20 defeat to Cronulla.
The Sharks ran in five tries to four and progress to next Sunday's grand final, where they will attempt to win their first title since entering the competition 49 years ago.
Cronulla dominated from the outset, forcing three Cowboys line drop-outs in the opening exchanges, and by half-time had a 14-0 lead, on the back of 65% of possession.
The Cowboys were the first to score after the break through Lachlan Coote and it looked possible they might mount a comeback, but three tries in 14 minutes - including two to James Maloney - took the Sharks to a 32-6 lead with 14 minutes to go.
Three late Cowboys tries proved too little too late.
Sharks 32 (Maloney 2, Feki, Townsend, Lewis tries; Maloney 6 goals) d Cowboys 20 (Feldt 2, Coote, Hess tries; Thurston 2 goals)
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