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Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes.

Just this week Chad Townsend was talking up the loud and proud chirping from Cronulla's gun No.1, in-demand and irresistibly in form Valentine Holmes.

So of course the Sharks star turned the tables on Penrith and his own teammates with a sneaky play that he kept all to himself in Friday night's nailbiting semi-final.

Holmes bumped his already club-record season try tally up to 21 with a first half four-pointer before inexplicably letting Nathan Cleary nab one on his watch as he failed to clean up a Panthers grubber.

Later still he was steamrolled by Viliame Kikau as the bullocking back-rower set up a try for centre Waqa Blake which levelled scores up at 20-all, prompting Holmes to spring a short kick-off from the resulting re-start.

His dribbler off the tee barely rolled the requisite 10 metres before he was able to regather, just as well considering he hadn't told a single Sharks player it was on and Shane Flanagan was already wanting to throttle him for the Cleary blunder.

"I know what I was thinking, I wanted to run down there and if he was my son I would've given him a clip around the ears," Flanagan grinned when asked about Holmes' error that led to Cleary's critical try.

"Val is one of those players that backs himself. He tried to kick it out too late.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Panthers - Finals Week 2, 2018

"He's let one in tonight which wasn't great but he came up with a really big play from the kick-off.

"That's what type of player Val is, (he) didn't tell anyone about it and just kicked it off and got possession for us and I think that might have led to the field goal."

In an enthralling, mile a minute contest, Flanagan had his field goal attempts wrong.

The Townsend drop punt that followed Holmes' short kick-off was charged down, with scores locked at 20-20 and less than 10 minutes on the clock.

But Holmes was again on hand at dummy-half five minutes later, Cronulla having worked back into one-pointer range once more.

And in direct contrast to the vocal dominance Townsend detailed earlier this week as a critical development in the youngster's game, Holmes stayed mute in the clutch moment.

"The second one, again probably not ideal positioning," Townsend said.

"We were stuck on the right side of the field around the scrum line - it's not ideal.

"But I was actually yelling to Val to give me the ball and he wasn't looking at me. I didn't know if he'd actually heard me. I was happy to see it go over and I said to him 'did you hear me calling the ball?' after the game.

"And he said 'yeah I heard you, I just didn't want to let on that I knew that you were calling for the ball.'"

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