A committed Souths side has snapped the Sharks six game winning streak with a 22-14 victory in the round 13 clash at ANZ Stadium.
The Rabbitohs dominated long periods of the first half and rammed home their advantage in the early moments of the second, running out to a 22-2 lead before a late Sharks rally managed to bring some respectability to the final scoreline.
It was a wake up call for a Sharks team which had found some form in the previous six weeks, with the loss leaving them looking for some improvement before their next assignment, a Sunday afternoon clash with the Wests Tigers in nine days time.
After the Sharks and Rabbitohs traded early penalty goals the momentum shifted in Souths favour and with field position weighing heavily in their favour, a smart try to Tom Burgess, backing up a John Sutton line break, made it 6-2.
Adam Reynolds kicked the simple conversion and after 14 minutes it was the Bunnies who were six points up.
The Sharks tried their best to stem the tide, losing Wade Graham as a result of a head knock not helping their cause, but for the next 10 minutes they held their opponents at bay.
Bravely defending their line Souths could only manage another penalty despite their dominance and with both teams squandering a handful of chances to score, the teams went to the break with the home side up by 10-2.
The Sharks fortunes didn't improve too much in the opening exchanges of the second period and when a perfect cross kick from Reynolds found Campbell Graham, the lanky winger jumping over the back of Sosaia Feki to claim the ball before planting it down, and it was 14-2 only five minutes into the half.
Trying to up the ante the Sharks matched their opponents for the next 15 minutes of the contest however Souths would go further ahead courtesy of a Reynolds penalty.
A Sione Katoa intercept and 50-metre run, which then saw Souths winger Robert Jennings sent to the sin bin for being second man into the tackle, put the Sharks on the front foot, however their opponents again defended their line and when Matt Moylan was also sent for 10 it was 12 on 12 for the remaining 11 minutes of the contest.
Souths added insult to injury for the Sharks, Tom Burgess scoring a second adjacent to the posts through some ordinary defence and when Reynolds added the extras it was 22-2 and pretty much game over.
The Sharks bridged the gap with a Jesse Ramien try, the centre who was close to the Sharks best on a disappointing night showing great strength to get the ball down despite the attention of three tacklers and with the Chad Townsend conversion it was 22-8.
A Townsend line break, followed by a spectacular finish by rookie Katoa, with what was his first try of his NRL career, followed by a sideline conversion by Townsend and the Sharks had inched closer at 22-14.
Finding a second wind the Sharks pressed their opponents in the last three minutes but it was too little too late, the Cronulla side losing their first game in seven matches.
For the Sharks Ramien was strong on the right hand side, Edrick Lee improved at fullback the longer the game went and Townsend tried hard in the halves behind what was a beaten Cronulla pack.
Next up for the Sharks is a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Wests Tigers at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Jesse Ramien, Sione Katoa tries, Chad Townsend 3 goals
Tom Burgess 2, Campbell Graham tries, Adam Reynolds 5 goals
Crowd - 10,410