The Sharks have been pipped 20-16 by the Brisbane Broncos in a nail-biting match at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
During a high-octane attacking affair, the Sharks had two tries disallowed as they ultimately came up short against a solid Broncos outfit.
While Brisbane is now also on 18 competition points, the result sees Cronulla remain in 7th position because of points differential.
It was a horror start for the home side. After the Sharks powered up-field in the first set of the match, halfback Chad Townsend's last-tackle kick was charged down by Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jnr, who collected the scraps and galloped away to score untouched.
Former Cronulla NYC player Jamayne Isaako converted the opportunistic try, putting Brisbane ahead 6-nil in just two minutes.
Moments later and the Broncos scored again. A succession of penalties invited the visitors deep into enemy territory, before fleet-footed five-eighth Anthony Milford danced his way under the posts.
Isaako made light work of the simple goal kick, extending Brisbane's lead to two converted tries.
But the Sharks would soon find their rhythm. Following an electric 70-metre break from rookie Cronulla winger Sione Katoa, the Broncos found themselves down to 12 men when Milford was sin-binned for a professional foul.
The Sharks capitalised on the advantage, recognising an overlap on the Milford-less right edge. Jesse Ramien was the beneficiary of some sleek backline movement, and the robust centre powered over in the corner.
Townsend couldn't find his range the from the touchline; the score remaining 12-4 in Brisbane's favour.
Smart game management from Broncos half Kodi Nikorima helped wind down the clock and ensured the Sharks couldn't post more points in Milford's 10-minute absence.
A penalty adjacent to the uprights soon gave the Broncos a chance to add another two points. Isaako happily obliged, knocking over the goal to widen the gap to 10.
The Sharks looked to have fired back almost immediately, after Katoa reeled in a Townsend cut-out ball and crossed the stripe. But they were denied when the Bunker confirmed the on-field referees' suspicion that an obstruction occurred in the lead-up.
A cunning chip-and-chase from Townsend in the shadows of half-time came close to providing a second Sharks try. The chance was snuffed out, however, and the Shire men went into the break 14-4 behind.
Fortunes were reversed to begin the second stanza. Nikorima kicked out on the full at the end of the Broncos' set and gifted the Sharks an early opportunity. While Matt Moylan threatened, they couldn't break through the Brisbane wall.
The vocal Cronulla crowd rose as one when Holmes began to streak downfield en route to the try-line – only for the referee to spoil the party due to a forward pass.
Some enterprising football then sent Edrick Lee bustling down the left sideline before being rounded up by the chasers. Cronulla almost scored off the next tackle through Luke Lewis, but desperate Brisbane scramble defence bundled the veteran into touch.
It was the Broncos' turn to attack next as the frantic pace continued. Nikorima tore away and linked with prop Sam Tagatese in support, but his attempt to offload to Milford broke down.
Next, Brisbane winger Corey Oates produced a scintillating dash. The away team received a penalty later in the same set and opted to edge further ahead via the boot of Isaako.
There was plenty of life left in the match, though, with the Sharks claiming the first try of the second-half through ever-reliable centre Ricky Leutele. Townsend nailed the conversion, reducing the margin to six points.
Cronulla would draw level in a matter of minutes with another converted try. Co-captain Wade Graham came back against the grain on a jinking run and made full use of the clear 15-metre passage to the line, touching down beneath the sticks.
It took some magic from Oates for the Broncos to regain the lead. In what is a definite contender for finish of the year, Oates somehow remained balanced and, with his entire body suspended over the sideline, planted the ball millimetres inside the touchline.
Isaako missed his first conversion of the night, leaving the door ajar for the Sharks to snatch a win.
All of the momentum was with Cronulla in a frenetic final five minutes, but it just wasn't to be for the Sharks.
After enjoying a rest next weekend for representative round, the Sharks will now look to cement their place inside the top eight when they take on the Warriors in New Zealand.