Jamie Soward missed a late conversion as Cronulla Sharks held off a second-half fightback to down Penrith Panthers 20-18 at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday
Sharks' fifth NRL win on the bounce was hard-earned as Panthers battled back from an 8-0 half-time deficit to lead just past the hour mark.
The hosts got back in front and managed to stave off another comeback after Soward was off target with a kick that would have levelled the scores.
Michael Ennis crossed for his first try of the year after just three minutes to cap a spell of early Sharks pressure, though James Maloney struck the upright with his conversion.
Panthers mounted a spirited response, but were held up by some excellent defending as the hosts repelled back-to-back sets.
Having weathered the storm, Sharks strengthened their hand with two Maloney penalties before the interval.
But Panthers were superb in the early stages of the second half, Matt Moylan scoring a try after capitalising on Sosaia Feki's failure to collect a high kick.
Soward cleared the posts and Isaah Yeo's score was added to by James Fisher-Harris' five-pointer.
Maloney then took centre stage, converting his own try and adding the extras after Valentine Holmes' crossed to put Sharks back into the lead.
Yet there was time for one more twist as Fisher-Harris grabbed his second try, but Soward wilted under the pressure as his kick sailed wide.