Cronulla overcame a torrid injury toll and a serious case of the goal-kicking yips to scrape into the finals but they were eliminated right away to end a frustrating season.
New coach John Morris inherited the roster under testing circumstances and he had little go according to plan during a rollercoaster year.
Marquee men Matt Moylan, Shaun Johnson, Wade Graham, Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita all had stints on the sidelines, leaving the Sharks struggling for continuity at times.
Five straight losses mid-season was the low point of Cronulla's campaign – especially when they scored more tries than their opponents in four of those fixtures.
A first week playoffs defeat to Manly was a disappointment given the talent in their squad.
But they can take positives away having developed future stars like Briton Nikora, Bronson Xerri, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Blayke Brailey.
Home & Away record
8-4 at home, 4-8 away
Four wins from their last five matches at PointsBet Stadium helped the Sharks climb into the finals in seventh place.
Cronulla averaged a healthy 23.9 points at home; that number was boosted by a 42-22 defeat of Parramatta in round 13, a 39-24 triumph against South Sydney in round 20 and a 42-16 walloping of the Warriors in round 23.
The Sharks may have lost double the matches they won on the road but the numbers suggest they were better than their record.
Cronulla averaged more points for (18.9) and less against (19.9) than the competition medians of 18.1 and 21.4. Of their eight away defeats, five were by six points or less.
In his 19th and final season, Paul Gallen accumulated the team's most overall post-contact running metres (921 at 43.9 per game) despite his playing minutes dipping.
Prop Aaron Woods averaged the most post-contact metres per game at an average of 47.
Bench forward Braden Hamlin-Uele carried the defence the furthest per run, however, with an average of 3.37 metres (35.1 per game).
Try scoring – attacking channels
Cronulla had the most success in the right and centre-right channels where they scored 38 out of their 91 tries (41%).
Thirty five tries came down the left and centre-left channels, while another 19 were scored through the middle.
Only the Roosters (108) and Storm (104) claimed more total tries.
Josh Morris (14 tries) found the stripe the most for the Sharks in the regular season, the veteran outside back thriving despite being asked to switch edges and positions frequently.
Rookie centre Bronson Xerri was next with 12 tries. He, too, spent time on both sides but found a groove on the left edge outside Wade Graham.
Tries conceded – defensive channels
The Sharks conceded 31 of their 73 tries in the left and centre-left channels (42%). Twenty one tries were leaked through the middle and 21 came down the right or centre-right channels.
Data shows that halfback Chad Townsend (18) and outside back Josh Dugan (14) were responsible for the most try causes.
Tries conceded from penalties
Cronulla conceded 20 tries in the set after penalties – the equal-first lowest total in the competition – accounting for 27% of the 91 tries they allowed.
Andrew Fifita (17) gave away the most penalties in the side, followed by Matt Prior (15). Fourteen of Fifita's infringements were in the play-the-ball – he ranked equal-first in the NRL in that category.
Metres gained from offloads
The Sharks ranked seventh for metres gained from the carry immediately following an offload.
Fifita – who ranked third in the competition for total offloads (53) – produced quality as well as quantity as his teammates collected 248.6 metres after he promoted the ball (4.8 per offload).
Hooker Jayden Brailey supported well around the ruck and accumulated 117.7 metres after offloads as a result.
Look away, Sharks fans – this is the breakdown you knew was coming but won't want to relive.
Cronulla converted their tries at 70.3% – a far cry from Penrith's 88% benchmark.
Sharing the duties between Shaun Johnson, Kyle Flanagan and Chad Townsend to a lesser degree, Cronulla landed 71 of 101 goal attempts.
Johnson bore the brunt of the criticism for the team's kicking woes but he boasted a decent 77% success rate (42 from 56 goals), followed by Flanagan (61%, 19 goals) and Townsend (58%, seven goals).
Sharks legend Paul Gallen nailed his first two NRL career goals (vs Gold Coast in round nine and St George Illawarra in round 11) to finish with a perfect record.
Had every team in the NRL boasted a perfect goal-kicking record (or if goals weren't kicked), the Sharks would have finished fourth.
The Sharks have now qualified for the finals in five consecutive seasons (2015-19) – the longest streak in the club's 53-year history.
Aside from 2014 when they finished last amid the ASADA scandal, Cronulla have made the play-offs in seven of the past eight years.
Only Melbourne, who haven't missed the finals since 2010, have a better record during that period, while Brisbane are on level terms.
Cronulla gave six players their debuts but were still able to use the equal-fewest players throughout the year with 26 (alongside the Raiders and Wests Tigers).
The Sharks squad was the most experienced in the competition with an average of 110 NRL caps per player – one ahead of the Tigers.
Attacking and defending inside 20 metres
The Sharks were potent from close range, scoring on average every 8.8 play-the-balls inside the opposition's 20 metre zone. Only premiers the Roosters (8) were more clinical.
They were also fantastic at repelling teams attacking their line, averaging a conceded try every 13.1 play-the-balls in their 20 metres (third in the competition).