Cronulla Sharks were unhappy to miss out on two competition points against the North Queensland Cowboys but they were more concerned with debutant winger Sione Katoa, who suffered a broken jaw.
Katoa was taken straight to hospital upon leaving the field and the club's worst fears have been confirmed.
The scans on Katoa's broken jaw revealed that it was broken in two places and will require surgery as he faces a long stint on the sidelines.
It was the lowlight of a night in which the Sharks could have reeled the Cowboys in if they'd had some more polish in their game, according to coach Shane Flanagan.
"We need to work on a lot, we beat ourselves there ... with errors and penalties," Flanagan said.
"We hung in there and defended our try line for long periods of time but coming out of our end we just turned the ball over too often and gave them too many opportunities."
Flanagan is confident without hampering themselves with extra defence, his side will have become an excellent attacking unit as the year progresses.
Match Highlights: Cowboys v Sharks - Round 1; 2018
"If we play like I know we can and complete a bit better and put the opposition under a bit of stress, especially on their try line we'll come up with some points and won't be so fatigued when we have got the ball," he said.
"A bit to work on, but I'm really pleased with the effort, they tried really hard."
Cronulla showed good line speed in defence, foiling kick after kick from Johnathan Thurston.
Co-captain Paul Gallen was happy his team stayed in the contest until the 80th minute, but knew it would take more than that with Thurston managing the game.
"Every time we play the Cowboys it's tough… [Thurston's] game management was pretty good and as Flanno said, we were brave but we've got to fix out completions up, and our penalties," Gallen said.
"We beat ourselves, and when you've got Johnathan Thurston on the other side managing the game the way he does you did feel on the back foot at times, but… very pleased with how brave we were and we were still in the game at the end."