Sharks beat Roosters to set up Storm showdown, Panthers reach finals
Cronulla Sharks will travel to Melbourne Storm next weekend for a minor premiership decider after hammering Sydney Roosters 37-12 at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday.
Brisbane Broncos' defeat of the Storm on Friday kept Cronulla's hopes of finishing the regular NRL season at the top of the ladder alive and they came from 12-0 down to move just a point behind Craig Bellamy's side a day later.
The Sharks had lost three in a row and were without a win in four after reeling off 14 victories in a row, but ran it six tries to set up a showdown with the Storm at AAMI Park next Saturday.
Tries from Connor Watson and Latrell Mitchell as well as four points from the boot of the latter put the Roosters, full of confidence after winning their previous two games, 12 points to the good midway through the first half.
Shane Flanagan's men got into their stride and were 13-12 up at the interval following scores from Matt Prior and Ben Barba, with James Maloney converting both and adding a drop-goal just before the break.
Gerard Beale raced onto a Barba grubber to touch down and fit-again Sharks captain Paul Gallen powered his way through for a try before Jayson Bukuya and the clinical Valentine Holmes got in on the act and Maloney took his tally with the boot to 11.
Matt Moylan's late field goal sealed a tense 15-14 victory which secured Penrith Panthers' final spot and left Gold Coast Titans' hopes of prolonging their season in the balance.
Moylan and Waqa Blake scored first half-tries as the Panthers - who lost Reagan Campbell-Gillard to a suspected cracked disc in his back - led 14-0 at half-time, but the Titans came storming back with scores from Leivaha Pulu, Greg Bird.
It was Moylan who had the final say, though, capping an eye-catching display by landing a decisive kick through the posts to leave the Titans three points ahead of New Zealand Warriors and Wests Tigers, who lock horns on Sunday.
Jordan Rapana and Tom Trbojevic both scored hat-tricks as Canberra Raiders beat Manly Sea Eagles 44-30 in Jamie Lyon's Brookvale Oval farewell.