Canberra have recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season, stunning an out-of-sorts Sharks side 30-10 in Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium.
Cronulla started the match creatively with a short kick-off working in their favour, but it was all one-way traffic against them after that as the Raiders raced to a 20-0 lead.
The Sharks got back into the game with two second half tries but the Raiders lifted in defence with some spirited efforts.
Making the Raiders performance more impressive, Ricky Stuart's side were forced to defend their line for 30 minutes with 11-12 men after Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Corey Horsburgh were sin-binned for professional fouls.
Tries to Sebastian Kris, Josh Papalii and Corey Harawira-Naera inside 26 minutes took advantage of an ill-disciplined Sharks outfit, who conceded four penalties to relieve any pressure on the Raiders with the ball.
Match: Sharks v Raiders
Round 10 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Englishman Elliott Whitehead was then sin-binned for high contact on Dale Finucane, reducing the Raiders to 11 men on the field midway through the contest.
The Sharks had no answers in attack throughout the match to take advantage, however, and looked lost without Nicho Hynes in the halves after he moved to fullback this week with Will Kennedy missing through suspension.
Papalii is too big and too strong
- The Raiders got on the board in the fifth minute through Sebastian Kris, when he outleaped Sione Katoa in the air to get the ball down.
- Cronulla were their own worst enemies to gift the Raiders more yardage with leg up penalties - four of which eased any pressure on the opposition.
- Canberra extended their lead through Raiders hardman Josh Papalii when he crashed over the line from close range, courtesy of a pass from NRL debutant Zac Woolford.
- A clumsy high shot from Briton Nikora on Corey Harawira-Naera enabled the Raiders to push their lead to 14 via a penalty goal.
- Harawira-Naera then ensured the side got a 20-point lead when he finished off a Sione Katoa spill in a disappointing afternoon out for the Sharks winger.
- The Raiders were forced to defend with 12 after Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 34th minute. Canberra were denied a fourth try of the afternoon during that period with Jordan Rapana ruled offside from a kick.
- Cronulla lost Jack Williams to a shoulder problem to compound the loss of Finucane to a failed HIA. The Sharks activated their 18th man after losing Finucane given Whitehead was binned for foul play.
- The Sharks narrowed the lead to 16 with a try through Katoa out wide.
- Another try to the Sharks through Royce Hunt reduced the lead until Brad Schneider's effort late sealed the win.
Katoa finally gets the Sharks on the board
Play of the game
The Raiders turned it on in the first half in attack but it was their defence late that got them the victory.
After shaky second half performances this season, Canberra defended the line on more than 60 tackles, the most in an NRL game, to repel the Sharks when they were 1-2 men down.
Charnze Nicoll Klokstad's effort to shut down a Sharks play with only 11 men on the field was among the efforts of the match.
Nicoll-Klokstad saves the day for 11-man Raiders
What they said
"I thought we were in it early but just a couple of those fundamental last play try, we lost the confidence. A system area in the backfield both on the end of points and a simple error and middle try caught us on the hop and we never recovered. They gave us a few chances in the second half but our execution was off in the end. I felt like they out-competed us and were a bit more physical than us." - Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
"I know what's inside that jumper and we saw that today. I was very proud of that effort, it was courageous and a very tough win. We completed and kicked well, we played better. There were games at the start of the year where we'd make under 12 and under 14 errors. I was very happy for Zac [Woolford], it was a responsibility for us to make his first one a memorable one." - Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
Schneider seals the win for Raiders
Both sides will have a seven-day turnaround to prepare for back-to-back away trips in round 11.
The Raiders will travel to Dubbo for a stoush against the Rabbitohs, while the Sharks will return the sunshine state to take on the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday.
Craig Fitzgibbon has a clear decision to make around whether Nicho Hynes remains at fullback, while the injuries to Finucane and Williams are likely to see some forced changes next week.