The Sharks rekindled their hopes of a first-ever premiership with a resounding 37-12 home win over the lowly Sydney Roosters to pull to within one competition point of the Storm after 23 rounds.
Trailing 12-0, the Sharks mounted 37 unanswered points to end their four-game winless sequence and remain in contention for the minor premiership as the top team heading into next month’s play-offs.
Cronulla will face off against competition frontrunners Storm in a summit showdown tomorrow (Sept 3) in Melbourne to finish top on the final regular season standings.
Melbourne opened the door for Cronulla when they crashed 26-16 at home to the late-charging Brisbane Broncos.
Wayne Bennett’s Broncos produced some of their best football of the season to claim a fourth-straight win and lie in fifth spot heading into the final 24th round.
If Cronulla fail to dislodge Melbourne, the Canberra Raiders could oust the Sharks and claim second spot and with a home final if they win away at Wests Tigers this weekend.
Ricky Stuart’s Raiders kept in the hunt for a top-two finals spot with a 44-30 win over lowly Manly Sea Eagles.
North Queensland leapfrogged Canterbury into the top four with a 24-16 defeat of the Bulldogs.
Johnathan Thurston’s sublime kicking game had the Bulldogs under pressure as the champions shored up their premiership title defence.
A victory over Gold Coast in Townsville this week will ensure they finish in the top four.
Matt Moylan snapped a match-winning drop goal two minutes from fulltime to give the Penrith Panthers a thrilling 15-14 victory over Gold Coast and confirm a finals berth.
The Titans fought back from trailing 14-0 at half time to draw level at 14-14 before Moylan’s late intervention.
The Titans will need to beat North Queensland this week or rely on other results to finish in the top eight and obtain a place in the finals.
Wests Tigers kept alive their finals push when they scored three tries in the last 10 minutes to eliminate the New Zealand Warriors 36-24 in Auckland last Sunday (Aug 28).
The Tigers need ninth-placed Gold Coast to lose to North Queensland tomorrow and beat Canberra in their final round match at home the following day to play in this season’s finals.
Out of contention South Sydney extended Newcastle’s miserable club record to 17 straight losses with a 34-12 thrashing of the Knights at Hunter Stadium last Sunday.