Sharks fans will say that the loss was due to a crucial refereeing error late in the game, but Panthers fans will not care one bit, as a Michael Jennings try with 34 seconds to go, sending the game to golden point – that eventually saw Panthers halfback Luke Walsh kick the winning field goal.
At one stage, it seemed like the Sharks would win the game, as interchange forward Tyson Frizell went over, and the game was seemingly won for the Cronulla club.
Cue the controversial moment, though, when a short Panthers kick-off found touch, leading to a controversial ruling to award the Panthers a scrum, that resulted in the try to Jennings to level the scores.
Both sides were decimated by injuries however, with the Sharks missing Paul Gallen, Ben Pomeroy, Bryce Gibbs, Wade Graham and Todd Carney – whilst the Panthers missed players like Luke Lewis & Travis Burns, though they did welcome back winger Michael Gordon.
Whilst Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said that he would like to review the controversial scrum call, a decision that referees boss Bill Harrigan said was correct – he was disappointed that his side could not hold on for one more set.
“We fought really hard and got into a position where we should’ve won the game with a minute to go,” Flanagan said.
“And somehow it’s been taken away from us.
“… I think we should’ve been good enough to defend that set even if they (referees) have made an error, which I’m not saying they have.”
The loss sees the Sharks slip to seventh position on the NRL ladder, and they know that the odds are against them.
“Backs against the walls now,” Flanagan said.
For Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, he was just pleased that his side managed to finish on top in a nail-biting contest for once this season.
“We’ve had a few of those games, we’ve been ahead in last 10 minutes and lost,” he said.
“But even then we were going better tonight than on other occasions. Sometimes you get them at the end, sometimes you don’t.
“I thought we deserved the win.”