Three tries from fullback Kade Dykes has failed to turn the result in the Sharks favour, with the SG Ball Sharks going down by 40-26 in their round six match against the Illawarra Steelers.
It was a disappointing defensive effort from the Sharks who conceded eight tries in drooping the points in a match that could prove crucial to their chances of qualifying for the SG Ball finals.
The Sharks lacked energy and composure in the opening half, going to the break behind by 28-12 despite running with the advantage of a strong northerly breeze and while they showed some fight in the working their way back into the contest, in the end recovering from the first half deficit was a mountain too high to climb.
The Steelers scored first to push out to a 6-0 lead after just five minutes, before the Sharks would respond, Sam Stonestreet touching down on the end of a clever exchange of passes, the ball going through the hands of Dykes, then centre Noah Lester for their winger to score wide out.
Ryan Rivett slotted the sideline conversion and it was then the Sharks half spotting an opening and scoring from close range which gave his team its first, and ultimately only, lead of the afternoon at 12-6 up.
The Sharks would then become their own worst enemies with errors and a lack of defensive intensity, the Steelers scoring four tries, including a spectacular long-range effort on the stroke of half time to lead 28-12.
Dykes had what appeared to be a try disallowed by the match officials early in the second period and the Sharks problems intensified when the Steelers would march down the field and score at the other end to increase their advantage to 22-points.
It wouldn't take long after for Dykes to get on the board, slicing though to plant the ball down in the same spot where the previous try was ruled against and when he scored in a similar fashion just two minutes later, the Sharks had a spring in their step at 34-22 will still 22 minutes of the match remaining.
A third try to the Sharks fullback in exploiting weak right side defence of their opponents made it 34-26, but that would be as close as the Cronulla side would get, a Sharks attacking raid in the final moments seeing the Steelers go the length on the field to confirm the result, the final try coming despite a determined chase from prop Josh Finau.
Like their Matthews Cup counterparts, the loss puts the Sharks under enormous pressure to qualify for the finals. Sitting in eight place on the ladder, three points behind the sixth placed Parramatta, the Sharks will need a win over the Eels next week to be any chance of playing finals football.
The round seven match between the Sharks and Eels is scheduled for PointsBet Stadium next Saturday afternoon.
Kade Dykes 3, Sam Stonestreet, Ryan Rivett tries, Rivett 3 goals