Sharks win a nailbiter
It wasn't a finish for the faint-hearted, with the Sharks hanging on when a video-refereeing decision went their way in the final moments in beating the Penrith Panthers 24-20 at Remondis Stadium.
The Sharks lost Todd Carney early to a hamstring injury, after centre Jonathan Wright had also put their best laid plans into disarray when injured in the warm-up.
Adding to the earlier mishaps Sosaia Feki was forced from the field with a suspected concussion, forcing Wade Graham into the unaccustomed role of centre for the strart of the second half, with the final result a fitting reward for what was a whole-hearted and determined effort.
In a tough, grinding affair, the Sharks always seemed to be coming from behind, however when Jeff Robson crossed for a 75th minute try it looked as though the Sharks had sealed the win.
But in what turned out to be a frantic finsih, it appeared the Panthers had snatched a last minute win when Dean Whare slid over in the north-eastern corner, however to the delight of the 13,000-strong crowd the video referee deined the try for an obstruction, the Sharks holding on to secure the much-needed win.
The match was a see-sawing contest, with Penrith leading 6-0, then 6-4 after a Todd Carney try, before a second Panthers four-pointer and conversion gave the visitors an eight point advantage.
Carney was forced from the field after his 16th minute touchdown.
Ricky Leutele narrowed the gap with a 38th minute score, with the teams going to half time with the Panthers leading 12-10.
The second half was an arm wrestle, with the two teams trading penalty goals to make it 14-12 Panthers, before the Robson try appeared to give the Sharks the win.
A spectacular Michael Gordon try, the Sharks fullback leaping high over his opposite number to touch down under the posts made it 18-14 to Cronulla, until a long range try to Peter Wallace, backing up a Whare break, put the Panthers back on top.
The Sharks weren't to be denied though on this occasion, Robson winning a 20-metre race to the line after a Graham line break and it was the Sharks in front again at 24-20 with time ticking away.
It was a much-needed win for the Sharks who start their climb up the competition ladder after what has been a slow start to the 2014 season.
The NRL takes a break next weekend now with the representative games to be played, with the Sharks next assignment against the Parramatta Eels on Monday, May 12.
Michael Gordon, Jeff Robson, Ricky Leutele, Todd Carney tries, Gordon 4 goals