The Sharks edge a close encounter with the Raiders in Canberra after the South Sydney Rabbitohs pulled off an upset win over the ladder-leading Dragons.
Sharks pull clear of Raiders late in Canberra
A Valentine Holmes double proved the difference as Cronulla enjoyed a gutsy 24-16 NRL comeback win over Canberra.
The Sharks' fourth straight victory was built around their full-back's dramatic redemption after costing the Sharks an early converted try.
Star Raiders winger Nick Cotric pounced on some sloppy play from Holmes in the dead-ball zone to score Canberra's first points after seven minutes to get the crowd of 11,047 firing.
But only a minute later Holmes weaved through Canberra's defence after taking a high-ball to run three quarters of the field and get the Sharks going with their first try.
Fittingly, Holmes sealed the game when he went on another huge run in the final minute as Chad Townsend converted the try after full-time.
The Sharks trailed by eight points at half-time in the clash, with the Raiders searching for a victory that would've put them inside the top-eight.
Canberra didn't add to its score after the break as Cronulla controlled possession and time in attack during the second half.
Sosaia Feki's try on the left edge in the 66th minute saw the Sharks hit the lead for the first time as the Raiders were unable to capitalise on their attacking threats after that.
Holmes was also influential in another try, as he slapped a ball back for first-gamer Jack Williams to score the first points of his career in the 55th minute.
Canberra's woes were compounded by five-eighth Blake Austin being taken from the field with a suspected serious ankle injury.
The off-contract Austin was helped off by trainers after being injured while scoring Canberra's second try late in the first half.
Bunnies turn over the league-leading Dragons
South Sydney has proven it is the real deal this NRL season with a 24-10 upset of ladder leaders St George Illawarra on Sunday.
A week after being anointed the premiership favourites following their heavy defeat of Melbourne, the Dragons came crashing back to earth.
Anthony Sebibold's Rabbitohs produced one of the best defensive efforts of the year to hold out the Dragons, who remain in top spot despite the loss.
Teenage winger Campbell Graham effectively sealed the win for Souths when he scored from an Adam Reynolds grubber that had deflected off Gareth Widdop in 72nd minute to make it 18-4.
Five minutes earlier Tyson Frizell's 90m effort when Sam Burgess dropped the ball kept the Dragons in the game when they got back to 14-4.
Frizell did get his second with a 77th minute consolation try.
Despite his error Burgess had a barnstorming game in his return from a two-week suspension.
Souths backrower Angus Crichton made 188 metres and scored his side's second which made it 10-0 after just eight minutes.
Damien Cook won the battle of the NSW number nine aspirants with Cameron McInnes, making good metres out of dummy-half and kicking for Greg Inglis' final try.
After Souths led 12-0 at half-time, they dodged a bullet when the touch judges and referees missed an Adam Reynolds knock on.
To make things worse for the Dragons, Reynolds booted a penalty conversion soon after to make it 14-0.
The turning point came midway through the first half when the Dragons had six sets on the Bunnies' line in the space of seven minutes but could not crack them.
Despite having 26 tackles inside the opposition red zone in the first stanza, the Dragons were held scoreless at halftime for just the second time this year as the Bunnies went on to hold onto fifth spot.
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