Ronaldo Mulitalo suffered a broken jaw as his Sharks surged past Wests Tigers in a 50-20 win that coach Josh Hannay called "flattering".
Cronulla careered away in a nine-tries-to-four performance to extinguish the 13th-placed Tigers' finals hopes but Hannay felt his team weren't quite as dominant as the scoreboard suggested.
Regardless, he was thrilled after the Sharks leapfrogged the Titans into eighth spot on points differential and playmaker Matt Moylan made a successful cameo return from a seven-week calf injury.
But the injury to winger Mulitalo, who bagged a double and selflessly gave up a hat-trick by passing to Luke Metcalf, was a dampener.
The 21-year-old still thanked fans at Rockhampton's Browne Park, even gifting his boots to a youngster, as he held an ice pack to his jaw with tears welling - presumably because his season could be over.
Match: Wests Tigers v Sharks
Round 23 -
Venue: Browne Park, Rockhampton
Cronulla confirmed on Sunday that Mulitalo had broken his jaw and that he was scheduled for surgery in a Brisbane hospital.
"He gives everyone a lot of energy and invariably when Ronnie has a good game, we win. He's that kind of player. And he was having a really good day out there, so fingers crossed it's a good result."
Fullback Will Kennedy and halves Metcalf and Braydon Trindall contributed to some champagne attacking footy from the Sharks.
And Moylan's 19-minute stint to finish the match, creating Metcalf's second try with a vintage bust, was another bright spot.
Mulitalo has a double down the left
"To see Matt get out there, the obvious one was the line break and set up the try which was just pure class," Hannay said.
"But the try down in the bottom corner where he created the space for Sione Katoa – his touches just ooze class.
"I was really happy to see Matt get out there and look like there was no rust there. And more importantly, speaking to him straight after the game, he's come through it really well.
"What I will say though is the young fellas in the halves put up a fight today in terms of him getting his jersey back.
"Luke Metcalf was tremendous in his first starting game at five-eighth and Braydon Trindall's been doing a really good job for us at seven.
"I was really proud of those two young fellas, the way they put their gloves up out there today. For Luke, it was probably a bit of a coming-of-age game for that young fella. He's got something."
The Tigers opened the scoring through Michael Chee Kam, but Cronulla quickly took control and led 16-4 at half-time.
They extended the margin to 34-10 midway through the second term before the Tigers briefly looked like mounting a comeback.
A classy act from Ronaldo Mulitalo
But as was their problem all afternoon, some meek defensive efforts - particularly through the middle - allowed the Sharks to cruise home with Kennedy and Katoa also completing try doubles.
"It was an important game. I thought the scoreboard was probably a little flattering in the end, to be honest," Hannay said.
"Footy's funny like that. It can end up looking like a blowout, but there were moments there all throughout the game where the game was on a bit of a knife's edge.
"We got a little bit of luck at different times when we needed it, but I'm going to take that because we've certainly had times this year where we haven't had any."
Great signs for Sharks fans and Matt Moylan