Sharks v Warriors: Five key points
An 87th-minute James Maloney field goal secured Cronulla's 11th straight win of the season with a 19-18 victory over the Warriors to match their club-record streak from 2002. The Warriors raced out to an early 10-0 lead before conceding three quick tries, including a penalty try to Jayson Bukuya. Former Sharks Blake Ayshford and Jonathan Wright scored for the Warriors, while Bukuya and Maloney haunted their former teammates.
The penalty try is alive
There has been a reluctance in 2016 to award penalty tries for professional fouls near the try line, with the sin bin the preferred punishment in most instances.
Just last week the Warriors had Ken Maumalo sent to the bin for 10 minutes for denying Roosters winger Joseph Manu an opportunity to score.
Six days later, the Warriors were at the centre of another 50-50 call, but this time the bunker decided to award a penalty try after Simon Mannering was ruled to have illegally impeded Jayson Bukuya from scoring in the 48th minute.
The decision proved pivotal as the game was decided in golden point, and while Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman said it didn't cost his side the game, he was left bewildered by the decision to award the try.
"There have been quite a few this year where they couldn't definitively know if he's going to score the try," he said.
"I don't know what's changed in the last couple of weeks for them to reckon that there's absolutely no doubt that he was going to score that try with a bouncing ball bouncing everywhere."
Hoffman received support from Sharks skipper Paul Gallen who admitted he didn’t think his side would be awarded four points.
"I didn't think it'd be a try to be honest," Gallen said. "I thought it was a bit of a harsh call against them."
…and so is the post-try celebration
NRL fans have grown accustomed to seeing rather meek post-try celebrations from players in the modern era, but that wasn't always the case.
Four-pointers used to be followed by backflips, slam dunks, the cutting of coconuts and many more celebrations, but they've been few and far between in recent times.
Thankfully, Sharks hooker Michael Ennis did his best to revive the lost art with his rendition of the 'Selfie'.
Having just crossed for his second try of the season, Ennis picked up the ball and ran towards the hill, stopping to pose for a faux photograph with the fans.
"I remember Mark Riddell doing something similar many years ago and I enjoyed it, so I thought I'd come up with something original," Ennis told NRL.com.
"The game's too serious sometimes so you need to have a bit of fun when you can. When you get close to 14,000 people here in six degree weather, why not have a bit of fun with them? They've been awesome to me since I've come here."
Warriors lose the game but don't lose any admirers
The Warriors headed into the contest on a three-game winning streak, but despite the impressive run of form were given very little chance of troubling the table-topping Sharks.
While they fell in agonising circumstances, the visitors controlled the game for large portions and could have easily stolen it in golden point had they had more polish in attack.
"It hurts, those ones, when you put in so much effort," Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said.
"We gave it everything and it just came down to that last kick. I'm very proud of the boys. We've just got to give ourselves a couple of days and get back into it.
"I don't think anyone gave us a chance tonight, but we certainly did. I think we proved to ourselves that we can match it.
"It wasn't good enough tonight, but I think we can play better. I thought we were a bit flat at the start but we found ways to get our noses in front. Unfortunately they were just too good in the end."
Slow starts not hurting the Sharks… yet
By their own admission they weren't at their best, but the Sharks did enough to make it 11 consecutive wins in 2016 to tie the club record set 14 years ago.
For the third straight game the Sharks conceded the first try but recovered to eventually down the Warriors in golden point.
Ennis said it was an area of their game that they had to fix heading into the business end of the season.
"We've been a bit slow after our byes, to be honest," Ennis told NRL.com.
"After the Rep Round we were good against Newcastle, but certainly against the Bulldogs and Warriors we've missed our starts. We allowed both of them to get out to 10-point leads so we need to address that.
"We've got that really good balance of youth and experience in our side that gave us the confidence to get back into the contest tonight. We should have known what to do but we allowed them back into the game."
Nothing streaky about golden point win
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admitted his side would have lost Saturday night's game 12 months ago.
It's hard to argue with his assessment given the Sharks let slip a late lead to the Warriors in 2015 to lose in the final minute at home in Round 9.
But the Sharks of 2016 are a vastly different side having won six games by five points or less during their 11-game winning streak.
Ennis knows a thing or two about winning games after being a part of the Bulldogs side that went 12 games unbeaten in 2012.
The Sharks hooker said there were similarities between that side and his current team, but admits there is still room for improvement.
"It's similar in a lot of ways in that we've been in a few games that were a bit closer than we would have liked," Ennis said.
"But winning becomes a habit, and we're learning how to win. At the moment we're really comfortable when the game gets in tight situations.
"We need to be better than what we were tonight, there's no doubt about that. But we'll take the two points, especially against a quality side like the Warriors who are starting to hit some form."
Skipper Gallen is the only surviving member from the side that won 11 in a row in 2002 and said it was a pleasure to be a part of Saturday night's record-equalling win.
"I know 'Flanno' said it wasn't pretty, but I think as a fan watching it, it would have been a pretty good game to watch," he said.
"I would have thought it would have been fantastic to watch, actually.
"It was two sides really going at each other. Unfortunately one sides got to lose, and thankfully it wasn't us."