It barely resembled a local derby, with relative silence in the stands and less than 200 fans present, however the intensity was still evident, with two desperate teams looking to kick start their seasons after struggling through the early rounds.
While the Sharks showed some signs of life, in the end superior ball control, coupled with the fact that the Dragons managed to take their opportunities when presented, saw the St George Illawarra side come away with a 30-16 victory.
A try right on half time proved decisive, while it was an afternoon where not much went the Sharks way, however now sitting with just one win from five matches this year the next few weeks are certainly vital to their chances of challenging for a top eight berth.
The Sharks dodged a bullet early when a Dragons try was called back for an obvious obstruction and in marching down the other end of the field were able to post first points, Mawene Hiroti with only his second touch of the ball in Cronulla colours crossing wide out after some slick play on his inside.
Johnson wasn't able to convert and the Sharks led 4-0 inside the opening five minutes of the match.
Enjoying the better of possession and field position, following a Sharks error and a repeat set the Dragons would score, Mikaele Ravalawa going over in the north eastern corner of Campbelltown Stadium.
Young centre Zac Lomax converted and the St George Illawarra team were up 6-4 after 15 minutes.
Again the Sharks would exploit a defensive weakness out wide but this time on the opposite flank, Sione Katoa getting the ball down after being put into space by a Will Kennedy pass.
This time Johnson kicked the extra two points from the sideline and it was 10-6 Sharks.
The Sharks were denied by a harsh call from the video referee after Blayke Brailey and Kennedy had combined to put Johnson over, then an equally tough decision at the other end, referee Henry Perenara putting the whistle to his mouth to rule a knock on against Euan Aitken, only to change his mind and rule six again and soon after Matt Dufty would slice through for his teams second four-pointer.
Lomax’s kick put the Dragons in front 12-10 and just when it appeared as though the Sharks would go to the break trailing by two, a Ben Hunt try from dummy half, following a Cronulla error, sent the home team to half time up by 18-10.
On a night when the bounce of the ball and the referees whistle wasn't going the way of the Sharks again they had a set back, this time when a Lomax error in goal appeared to gift Cronulla a try to Wade Graham, but once more the decision went against them, with the Dragons still leading by eight 15 minutes into the second period.
The let off lifted the Dragons and after camping on the Sharks line for what seemed an eternity, finally they broke through, Cameron McInnes reaching out to score under the posts off a Hunt pass.
The goal from Lomax made it 24-10 and the Sharks had it all to do.
Now their own worst enemies and with Hunt controlling the game from the hooker position, the Dragons kept their foot on the throat, an error putting the Sharks opponents into an attacking zone once again
The Sharks defended that situation and following a penalty in their favour moved downfield and managed to bridge the gap, Graham scoring off a Johnson pass, the conversion making it 24-16 with a tick under 10 minutes left on the clock.
A try scoring opportunity went begging with seven minutes to go, Katoa, probably the Sharks best on the night, just failing to find the last pass with a opportunity out wide, then he was again ruled against by a video referee decision a couple of minutes later, before the Dragons put the icing on a disappointing night for Cronulla, Rawalawa going over for his second try of the night as the siren sounded in the background.
Katoa got through a mountain of work for the Sharks on the wing, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Toby Rudolf were strong in the middle and Graham tried to lift his troops but was unable to help steer them to a victory and the much-needed two competition points.
The Sharks now sit towards the bottom of the ladder with one win from five starts in 2020 and need to turn around their fortunes quickly, beginning with a game against the Bulldogs next Sunday afternoon.
Sione Katoa, Mawene Hiroti, Wade Graham tries, Shaun Johnson 2 goals
Mikaele Ravalawa 2, Ben Hunt, Matt Dufty, Cameron McInnes tries, Zac Lomax 4 goals