It was a devastating night for the Sharks and not only because of the fact they were beaten 34-18 by the Roosters in their round 19 clash.
In a huge blow to their hopes of making an impression in the upcoming finals series, Shaun Johnson was driven from the field on a medi-cab with what looked like a serious achilles injury, Royce Hunt left the field in a similar manner with a knee problem, while Josh Dugan’s night finished early when he also limped off 10 minutes before full time.
With Chad Townsend sidelined due to suspension and Matt Moylan still battling a troublesome hamstring an unlikely to return, it will be backs to the wall for the Sharks as they attempt to regroup ahead of their final round match against the Raiders next week.
But while the night was a difficult one, the Sharks showed plenty of grit a times to hang in, although too many errors and a couple of defensive lapses saw them concede six tries in the loss.
It was a scrappy start for the Sharks, an error on their first set was cleaned up by a Ronaldo Mulitalo try saver, however a second mistake on just their second possession led to the the Roosters opening try, Mitchell Aubusson crashing over off a Luke Keary shot ball.
Kyle Flanagan in his first game against his former club was able to add the extras and it was 6-0 Roosters five minutes into the match.
It wouldn't take the Sharks long to strike back, the Roosters spilling the ball coming out of the their end of the field and a Johnson pass found a rampaging Siosifa Talakai, the burly back rower running through a Flanagan tackle in a 20-metre run to score.
Johnson kicked the simple conversion and after nine minutes the scores were level at 6-apiece.
A Flanagan penalty goal gave his team the lead at 8-6, then the Roosters would increase their advantage, Daniel Tupou on the end of a passing exchange to touch down out wide despite the best efforts of Sione Katoa to hold him up.
Flanagan kicked the goal to make it 14-6 and some poor Sharks defence would lead to the Roosters third try, Isaac Lui busting tackles on a long run downfield before finding Keary in support.
In keeping his perfect night with the boot intact, Flanagan’s conversion made it 20-6 after 30 minutes of the match.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Sharks who were unable to clean up a Roosters grubber and it was Aubusson diving on the loose ball for his second of the night.
This time Flanagan was off target but at 24-6 the Sharks had it all to do.
They were given a glimmer of hope a minute before the break, Mulitalo diving over in the corner after a Katoa line break had put his team deep on the attack and following Johnson’s successful sideline conversion it was the Roosters up 24-12 after a half where the Sharks had just 43 per cent of the football, making six handling errors and competing only 10 of their 15 sets.
The Sharks began the second half with plenty of intent and while attacking the Roosters line would suffer a massive blow with Johnson stumbling, then clutching his lower leg, later diagnosed to be an achilles injury, with scans in the next few days to confirm.
Despite battling hard the any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Keary scored a second while Dugan was down and receiving treatment, Ben Cummins letting play continue with the Roosters exploiting the Sharks being a man down in scoring a long range four pointer.
Flanagan was again wide with his kick at goal but at 28-12 with around 20 minutes remaining it was a long road back for the Sharks.
In another massive setback Royce Hunt was the second player assisted from the field for the Sharks when his knee was buckled awkwardly underneath him in a tackle but undeterred they would bridge the gap, Braden Hamlin-Uele scoring his sixth try of the season, with Katoa taking over the kicking duties and adding the extras.
A try to Joseph Manu and a Flanagan goal would complete the scoring, making it 34-18 Roosters on a disappointing night all around for the Cronulla side.
While hard to find too many positives, the Sharks did have a number of their younger brigade put in committed performances, with Connor Tracey busy, Katoa a handful with ball in hand and Will Kennedy doing his best to ignite the attack from fullback.
In the forward, Talakai was again a standout, his fearless charges a feature of his game.
The Sharks now have seven days to regroup before taking on the Raiders in their final regular match of the regular season.
5 mins - Aubusson try, Flanagan goal - Roosters 6-0
9 mins - Talakai try, Johnson goal - 6-all
18 mins - Flanagan goal - Roosters 8-6
24 mins - Tupou try, Flanagan goal - Roosters 14-6
30 mins - Keary try, Flanagan goal - Roosters 20-6
34 mins - Aubusson try - Roosters 24-6
39 mins - Mulitalo try, Johnson goal - Roosters at 24-12
58 mins - Keary try - Roosters 28-12
68 mins - Hamlin-Uele try, Katoa goal - 28-18
76 mins - Manu try, Flanagan goal - 34-18
Siosifa Talakai, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Braden Hamlin-Uele tries, Shaun Johnson 2 goals
Mitchell Aubusson 2, Luke Keary 2, Daniel Tupou, Joseph Manu tries Kyle Flanagan 5 goals