On top of what has been a turbulent season for them, the Cronulla Sharks may well end up with the wooden spoon to top it all off, after they lost to Canberra this afternoon.
With both sides needing a win to step further away from spoon contention, it was the Raiders who won out, led by departing utility Anthony Milford.
His efforts, along with those of centre Jarrod Croker, gave the Raiders a 22-12 win and puts a sour taste in the mouths of Sharks fans, who have endured one hell of a season in 2014.
Despite the stellar efforts by Milford and Croker, it was ball control and errors that let both sides down for good portions of the game, as the first points only came more than halfway into the first half.
The game went tit-for-tat at one stage as the Sharks resilience continued to shine but ultimately, the class, finishing and skill of Milford was too much for the Shire-based side to handle.
The news did not get any better for the Sharks, either, with talented utility Fa’amanu Brown leaving the field late in the game with a knee injury.
Although Sharks coach James Shepherd praised his young, inexperienced side for their effort, it was a lack of execution that cost them the game.
“The effort was pretty good as a team but we just didn’t take our chances,” said Shepherd.
“The second half was disappointing because we probably didn’t complete as well as we needed to.
“There were some opportunities that we didn’t take and the team was disappointed after that, certainly.”
Whilst it was not their prettiest win, the Raiders were pleased to get the win, especially one that they had to grind out.
“The win was quite similar to the way we trained. We knew it was going to be a grind, we knew it was going to be a slog and anyone that thought we were going to come here and win by 30, was never going to be on the money,” said Raiders coach, Ricky Stuart.
“We practiced all week that this was going to be a real grind and with those three penalties in the first half, ti puts them on the front foot.
“We had to really defend. We had to dig deep in this game because there’s not a lot of confidence in our team due to past results.”
Canberra Raiders 22 (Milford 2, McIlwrick, Croker Tries; Croker 3 Goals) defeated Cronulla Sharks 12 (Feki, Robinson Tries; Gordon 2 Goals) at Remondis Stadium. Crowd: 13,496.