Ladder leaders Cronulla have equalled their club’s all-time winning streak with a controversial 19-18 golden-point NRL win over the Warriors at Shark Park.
Sharks five-eighth James Maloney potted the winning field goal in Saturday’s second stanza of extra time to extend his side’s winning run to 11.
Their streak equals the club’s record, set in 2002 and 1977-78, and has Shane Flanagan’s side well poised heading into the business end of the season.
After the home side took a 12-0 lead into halftime, the game turned when Jason Bukuya was controversially awarded a penalty try due to interference from Simon Mannering.
While Mannering clearly dragged Bukuya off the ball in the race for a Michael Ennis grubber, Warriors skipper Ryan Hoffman pleaded with the refs that there was no guarantee the Sharks’ forward would have scored.
However, the bunker ruled there was sufficient evidence to give the Sharks a four-pointer which proved decisive.
The Warriors hit back when five-eighth Thomas Leuluai stretched out and Issac Luke slotted a penalty goal with six minutes left on the clock to send the game to golden point.
Sharks fullback Ben Barba had a chance to win it after Chad Townsend burst clear but he dropped the ball cold with the tryline begging before Maloney sealed the match.
Earlier, the Sharks looked to have the Warriors on the rack for most of the first half but it was the visitors who struck first, racing out to a surprise 10-0 lead.
The Warriors cut up Cronulla’s left-side defence with former Sharks Blake Ayshford and Jonathan Wright both crossing.
Just when it looked like Andrew McFadden’s side had wrested control, the Sharks hit back when Ennis literally ran rings around the Warriors’ defence and Ricky Leutele reached out on the stroke of halftime for a 12-10 lead.
The Sharks were forced to play most of the second half without winger Valentine Holmes after he went off with an apparent head knock.