Townsend drop goal snatches Sharks win, Warriors beat depleted Broncos

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A Chad Townsend drop goal snatched a 9-8 NRL victory for Cronulla Sharks over Canterbury Bulldogs and Shaun Johnson starred as New Zealand Warriors brought the depleted Brisbane Broncos' six-game winning run to a halt.

Cronulla trailed 8-2 with 13 minutes remaining, but captain Paul Gallen inspired a late rally for the defending premiers and Gerard Beale scored a superb try before Townsend settled it with just two minutes to play at Southern Cross Stadium.

The Sharks have now won eight out of their last nine games and are level on points with leaders Melbourne Storm, but they left it late in the absence of State of Origin quartet James Maloney, Wade Graham, Jack Bird and Andrew Fifita on Saturday.

The Bulldogs lost captain James Graham once again to a shoulder injury in the first half, but they led 6-2 at half-time after Brenko Lee showed great footwork to score the only try of the opening 40 minutes.

A Kerrod Holland penalty gave the Bulldogs a six-point lead, but Beale burst away for Cronulla's only try after Gallen battled his way out of the in-goal and Valentine Holmes made ground with a brilliant run.

Gallen still left something in the tank to barge his way towards the Bulldogs line and Townsend held his nerve to send a drop goal through the posts with time running out.

The Broncos suffered their first loss since march, going down 28-10 to the Warriors.

Missing Origin stars Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Anthony Milford, Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillet, the Broncos were unable to contend with Johnson in Auckland.

The playmaker scored a first-half try and laid on two, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Ayshford, Ken Maumalo and James Gavet also going over. Two James Roberts tries were in vain for the Broncos, who sit third in the ladder.