Cronulla captain Paul Gallen told team it would be "embarrassing" if they failed to make the finals as they prepare for the "game of our life” against Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval next Sunday.
After falling to their fifth loss this season in a match in which they have scored more tries than the opposition, Cronulla must bounce back from the disappointment of Sunday’s 15-14 golden-point loss to Canberra and overcome the Tigers to scrape into the final eight.
Should the Sharks lose, it will bring down the curtain on Gallen’s career and while he was appreciative of the fans who stayed to watch as he was chaired from PointsBet Stadium by Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita after his farewell home game, the 38-year-old would have preferred the two points.
"I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that we didn’t win," Gallen said. "I am shattered. It is an empty feeling to walk away from my last game here not wining and more importantly not being where we need to be as far as making semi-finals."
Even Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, who was personally thanked by Gallen during the post-match presentation for the influence he had on his career while in charge of NSW and Cronulla, learned how disappointed he was.
Match Highlights: Sharks v Raiders
Asked if he had some words for Gallen after the match, Stuart said: "I did but he didn't have much back."
However, Gallen didn’t hold back when addressing teammates about the possibility of them not making the playoffs after Aidan Sezer secured a comeback victory for Canberra with his third field goal in the 88th minute.
"We just spoke about that then, it would be embarrassing to be honest with you," Gallen said. "I am not going to hide away from that one bit. It wouldn’t be good enough."
Cronulla coach John Morris was disappointed with his team’s second-half effort after scoring three unanswered tries to lead 12-0 at half-time.
With Kyle Flanagan failing to convert all three tries, the Raiders scored twice in the first 20 minutes of the second half to draw level at 12-12 and then Sezer and Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend traded two field goals each before full-time.
"We knew momentum would swing, we talked about that at half-time but who would have thought we would be sitting here talking about a game we lost by one point with five field goals featuring and again we scored more tries but got beat," Morris said. "It’s pretty hard to cop.
"Hopefully destiny is still in our hands and we can go Leichhardt and we are playing the game of our life.
"We have got to play to try and stay alive so we have got to pick ourselves up pretty quick and prepare as hard as we can because if we don’t get that one done it is the big boy’s last game and we can’t have that."
Morris said playmaker Shaun Johnson would undergo sans after suffering a quad injury in the warm-up which ruled him out just minutes before kick-off, while fullback Matt Moylan is also expected to play against the Tigers.
"We probably need to risk him because it could be our last [game] so everything I can do I will to get Moyza on the field," Morris said.