A dubious 78th minute penalty, with the ensuing goal kicked by Michael Gordon, has seen the Roosters edge out the Sharks in a thriller at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The ruck penalty broke the deadlock in gifting the Roosters a 16-14 win, pushing the Sharks outside the top four and making next week’s clash in Newcastle an important one for the Cronulla side.
The match begun at a ferocious pace with both teams bringing the intensity of two teams heading towards the 2017 Finals Series.
With both sides taking the game on early, it would be the Sharks who would get first points on the board after James Maloney successfully converted a penalty goal after Jake Friend was penalised for not getting off the tackled player.
The Sharks would lead 2-0 after seven minutes.
The lead wouldn’t last long though as the Roosters earnt their way deep into Sharks territory on the bac of an easy penalty. Isaac Liu took the ball up to the Sharks 20m line and was tackled by the Sharks defensive line however Jayden Brailey was too eager in the tackle and was ruled to have stripped the ball.
Michael Gordon took the two points on offer and the scores were level 2-2 after 11 minutes.
The Roosters continued to dominate the home side, making easy metres when they moved the ball to the edges of the field. Working the ball down their right edge, the Roosters broke down field through Blake Ferguson.
Ferguson took off down field before passing to Michael Gordon when he came to fullback Valentine Holmes. The Roosters winger though, was brought down by Sosaia Feki in a try-saving tackle.
The Roosters moved the ball towards the uprights and would prove to be too strong for the Sharks as Isaac Liu crashed over for the Roosters’ first try of the evening.
Michael Gordon would convert the try and the Roosters would go ahead 8-2 after 18 minutes.
On the front-foot, the Roosters were playing with confidence and dominating the Sharks in the middle of the field. The pressure would again prove too much as the Roosters again worked the ball down their right edge, again to Ferguson who would take on his opposite man in Ricky Leutele and beat him for pace and power to crash over for the Roosters’ second try of the evening.
Gordon’s effort was unsuccessful and the Roosters were ahead 12-1 after 28 minutes.
It would now be the Sharks’ turn to put the pressure on their opposition line, earning themselves a penalty for the Roosters being offside deep in their own territory.
Valentine Holmes would turn the ordinary into the spectacular when James Maloney put through a grubber kick for fullback Valentine Holmes close to the line. Holmes produced some magic he has become now famous for, collecting the grubber and putting in a summersault for good measure when getting the ball down.
James Maloney converted the goal from in front of the posts and took the score to 12-8 with seven minutes remaining in the first half.
The sides would enter the sheds with the score remaining 12-8 to the Roosters.
The second half started at a frantic pace, with both sides eager to put their stamp on the game after the break. The Sharks would look to be the ones who would take advantage of good field position early on in the half however lose passes would cost the home side, letting the Roosters off the hook at a crucial period of the match.
With the home crowd getting behind their boys, the Sharks would continue to pile on the pressure on the Roosters. Strong running from Chris Heighington and Sam Tagataese had the Sharks moving forward however they just weren’t able to convert pressure into points.
The ascendency would swing right here though.
Getting the ball back off a Sharks mistake, the Roosters took off up field and moved their way into the Sharks half. Strong running from the Roosters’ forwards called for big defence from the Sharks however the Sharks were too lively in the tackle when Heighington was penalised for putting Boyd Cordner in a dangerous position.
Gordon took the two points and the Roosters went ahead by six points at 14-8 after 56 minutes.
James Segeyaro was injected into the game after the penalty goal, and immediately brought energy to the match.
Working the ball around the ruck, Segeyaro began to find forwards running at pace and getting over the advantage line. The pressure would continue to mount on the Roosters when the Sharks worked the ball deep into opposition territory.
James Maloney took the ball to the line and looked to pass however put through a grubber for himself. The kick would be too hard and the Roosters were off the hook once again.
The Sharks kept chipping away despite the defensive pressure of the Roosters and when Luke Lewis drew a penalty for a professional foul and Luke Keary was sent to the sin bin with only nine minutes to go, the home team sensed their opportunity.
And again it was that man Lewis, running hard and straight onto a flat pass from Maloney, which would bring the Sharks within two points, before the simple conversion would level the score.
First it was Maloney bouncing off the upright with his kick at field goal, before Pearce sprayed one wide to give the Sharks a seven-tackle set. A last tackle error from the Sharks however gifted the Roosters field position and they took advantage, a penalty for holding down in the ruck giving Michael Gordon a chance to win the game.
And the former Shark didn’t disappoint his team or the Rooster fans, sending the conversion through the posts from 25 metres out.
The Sharks slip out of the tip four with the loss and go to Newcastle for their final match of the season.
Cronulla Sharks 14: Tries: Holmes, Lewis, Goals: Maloney (2/2 conv. 1/1 pen.)
Sydney Roosters 16: Tries: Liu, Ferguson. Goals: Gordon (1/2 convs. 2/2 pen.)
Official Crowd: 17,268