The Sharks have gone down by 18-13 to the Melbourne Storm in a thrilling contest at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Thursday night played in front of a vocal crowd of 7,912.
After trailing for 73 minutes the Sharks finally hit the lead with time running out, only for the Storm to strike back with a late match-winner
The game began with Storm skipper Cameron Smith having an impact early, a 40-20 kick putting his team on the attack and just three tackles later it was Felise Kaufusi crashing over wide out following some less than stellar Sharks goal line defense.
Smith converted the try and the Storm were up 6-0 just five minutes into the contest.
In the next possession a penalty late in the tackle count put the Storm back on the attack and again they made the Sharks pay, this time it was Tim Glasby who got the ball down adjacent to the posts despite the attention of young hooker Jayden Brailey.
Smith again added the extras and the Storm were up 12 with less than 10 minutes of the match gone.
On the back of a string of penalties the Sharks had their chances but couldn’t convert and when Kaufusi appeared to have crossed for a second the home side would have been facing a huge deficit, however the try was denied when the bunker ruled a knock on in the lead up.
A James Maloney run after grabbing a loose ball from a Billy Slater error put the Sharks back on the attack and when Luke Lewis scooped up a pass that hit the ground the veteran proved too hard to stop on a determined 10-metre charge to the line.
Maloney kicked the simple conversion and the Sharks were feeling somewhat better about themselves at 12-6 down with 11 minutes of the first half remaining.
While a bit of niggle crept into the game in the final moments of the half neither side was able to add to their tally with the visitors going to the break up by six points.
The second half began almost the way the first finished, with both teams ripping in and playing tough and physical.
After the two teams had gone set for set the Sharks would get a break when winger Josh Addo-Carr was pushed into touch and from the subsequent set of six they would narrow the margin when Sosaia Feki scored wide out after a clever exchange of passes.
From just a metre in from touch Maloney couldn’t convert, leaving Melbourne in front 12-10 with 30 minutes of the match to go.
It seemed the Storm would add to their lead however again the the try was disallowed when Addo-Carr fumbled in the in-goal, the Sharks dodging another bullet and staying within striking distance of their opponents.
A Maloney penalty leveled the scores at 12-apiece and with around 17 minutes left another Sharks-Storm classic finish was on the cards.
Valentine Holmes made a heroic covering tackle to stop a flying Addo-Carr in a match saving effort and when Maloney slotted a field goal to give the Sharks their first lead of the night, the home side up 13-12 it seemed the Sharks might sneak a victory.
Unortunately it wasn't to be, the Storm winning a scramble for the ball off the kick off, going on the attack and then three tackles later it was Kaufusi scoring his second, this time running into a yawning gap from a Slater pass. With the Smith goal it was 18-13 Storm with under five left on the clock.
As the clock wound down the Sharks would get one last chance to steal it on the bell, however Maloney's kick over to the left corner rolled into touch in goal before Feki or Holmes could ground the ball.
The loss saw the Sharks slip four points behind Melbourne on the points ladder.
The Sharks next assignment is a Saturday night game against the Wests Tigers.
Luke Lewis, Sosaia Feki tries, James Maloney 2 goals, field goal
Felise Kaufusi 2, Tim Glasby tries, Cameron Smith 3 goals