A mistake-riddled Sharks have been soundly beaten by the Penrith Panthers, conceding 10-tries in a 56-24 drubbing in their round nine clash at Kogarah Jubilee Stadium.
The Sharks were their own worst enemies, let down by handling errors, poor defence and ill discipline, with the final result leaving them some soul searching to do before facing the Warriors next week.
A dropped ball in the early exchanges set the tone for the afternoon, gifting the Panthers field position and just five tackles later they were able to open their account, fullback Dylan Edwards poking through before throwing a one-handed off-load for centre Brent Naden to score.
Nathan Cleary slotted the simple conversion and the Penrith side led 6-0 five minutes into the contest.
A penalty to the Panthers, then another Sharks mistake when they failed to field a Cleary bomb put the visitors on the attack soon after and again they exploited the left hand side of the Cronulla defence, Liam Martin running through a yawning gap for his teams second four-pointer of the afternoon.
Again Cleary was able to convert and the Sharks had put themselves in an early hole at 12-0 down.
The Sharks looked to have responded in the 14th minute of the game when Bryson Goodwin brushed aside some would-be defenders however the ball was knocked from his grasp in attempting to ground it in the in-goal, the missed opportunity an indication of how the game was tracking for the Cronulla team.
The Panthers would then add to their lead soon after, marching down the other end following the Goodwin miss, four straight six to go calls from referee Ashley Klein was too much for the Sharks to handle, Stephen Crichton ton the end of an overlap before grounding the ball centimetres in from the north-western corner.
Things then went from bad to worse, another penalty, this one for a high tackle late in the tackle count, again put the Penrith team on the attack and once more they were able to get across the stripe, debutant Charlie Staines going over on the end of an overlap.
From the following set of six the Panthers were over again, once more carving up the Sharks left side, Staines dashing away down the sideline before passing inside for Edwards to score.
Taking over the goal-kicking duties Crichton added the extras and it was 26-0 Penrith with still more than 10 minutes of the first half left to be played.
After mounting some pressure at the other end and this time following a Panthers mistake the Sharks were able to take something from the first half wreck, Briton Nikora running a strong line off a Shaun Johnson pass for his teams first points.
Johnson kicked the conversion to make it 26-6 but the Sharks weren't quite finished yet, another Penrith turnover early in the tackle count gave them just over a minute to do something and do something they did, Blayke Brailey showing good strength to run over a couple of defenders to slam the ball down as the half time siren was sounding.
Again Johnson was on target and the Sharks at least had given themselves and their fans some hope at 26-12 at the break.
Unfortunately that positive finish to the first half was brought undone when the Panthers easily moved downfield in the first set of the second, pushing their lead back out to 18 when Staines scored a second after a bat back from another Cleary kick.
The conversion attempt was wide but at 30-12 and it would have taken a monumental turn around for the Sharks to work their way back into the match.
Despite being a man down after James Tamou was sin-binned the Panthers went over again, on this occasion it was a soft try to Billy Burns through the middle of the Sharks ruck and after the Cleary goal it was 36-12 with still more than 20 minutes remaining.
After gaining possession from a short kick off the Sharks managed to inch closer when Jesse Ramien, now playing on the left side, stepped back on the inside and slid over, Johnson successful with his third kick in making the score 36-18 but a series of errors and an Aaron Woods sin-binning put paid to any thoughts of a Cronulla comeback.
Playing with the extra man Crichton scored a second and then when Penrith tried to be too clever on a final tackle in the ensuing set of six a loose pass was swooped upon by Nene Macdonald, the Sharks debutant streaking away to score his first four pointer in Cronulla colours.
Rubbing further salt into the Sharks wounds, young winger Staines would cross for two more tries in the final 10 minutes, taking advantage of a tiring opposition defence as the score pushed out to the final tally of 56-24.
Further compounding their woes, the Sharks lost Andrew Fifita at half time to a hamstring strain, Siosifa Talakai, who was perhaps their best and most damaging forward, centre Goodwin and winger Sione Katoa to through the second period.
The Sharks now have plenty of work to do to turn around their disappointing performance when they face the New Zealand Warriors on the Central Coast next Sunday.
5 mins - Naden try, Cleary goal - Panthers 6-0
12 mins - Martin try, Cleary goal - Panthers 12-0
15 Mins - Crichton try - Panthers 16-0
25 mins - Staines try - Panthers 20-0
28 mins - Edwards try, Crichton goal - Panthers 26-0
36 mins - Nikora try, Johnson goal - Panthers 26-6
40 mins - Brailey try, Johnson goal - Panthers 26-12
45 mins - Staines try - Panthers 30-12 -
58 mins - Burns try, Cleary goal - Panthers 36-12
59 mins - Ramien try, Johnson goal - Panthers 38-12
63 mins - Cleary goal - Panthers 38-18
67 mins - Crichton try, Cleary goal - Panthers 44-18
70 mins - MacDonald try, Johnson goal - Panthers 44-24
74 mins - Staines try, Cleary goal - Panthers 50-24
79 mins - Staines try, Cleary goal - Panthers 56-24
Briton Nikora, Blayke Brailey, Jesse Ramien, Nene Macdonald tries, Shaun Johnson 4 goals
Charlie Staines 4, Stephen Crichton 2, Brent Naden, Liam Martin, Dylan Edwards, Billy Burns tries, Nathan Cleary 6, Crichton goals