The Brisbane Broncos faced a tough task turning around their nightmare season against an in-form Cronulla Sharks side looking to get into the top four conversation after five wins from their last six.
After an equal opening five minutes, both sides looked to roll the dice to take the lead.
Kotoni Staggs threw a wild offload back inside, but it was picked off by Ronaldo Mulitalo, who raced away to score despite being collared by Thomas Flegler.
The next 15 minutes were a very tight midfield battle, as the Sharks looked to pull ahead, and the Broncos were searching for a way to breakthrough.
An offload from Tevita Pangai Junior to Herbie Farnworth got the Englishman to within ten metres, and after a quick play-the-ball, Anthony Milford, Thomas Dearden and Darius Boyd combined to spread the ball to Kotoni Staggs who slid over and scored.
Minutes later, Brisbane were in the hunt for a quickfire second.
The Sharks managed to hold out though, and in their very next set, extended their lead.
Blayke Brailey picked up from the ruck and popped the ball inside to the onrushing Siosifa Talakai who ran over the top of Pangau Junior to score.
Brisbane hit straight back though, as Rhys Kennedy collected a short ball from Jake Turpin and picked up his first NRL-try.
With just four minutes until the break, Milford and Boyd showed their class as they combined once more, this time down the left, to get the ball to Richard Kennar to slide over in the corner for his first NRL-try.
The Sharks weren’t going to lie down though, as they managed to regain the ball before the break, and after a double block play, Jackson Ferris beat the inside shoulder of Herbie Farnworth to score on his debut just before the break.
HALF-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 14-18 Cronulla Sharks
The Sharks started the second half the brighter as they forced three goal-line drop-outs from the Broncos on the bounce.
On the fourth tackle of the fourth set, the ball was spread out to Mulitalo but Staggs managed to get across and force the winger to drop the ball in his attempt to ground the ball.
After such a strong defensive effort for ten minutes, the Broncos charged upfield through Farnworth and Flegler, and the ball was then spread out to Kennar to pick up his second of the night thanks to great ball skills from Boyd and Milford.
Staggs converted to give the home side a narrow two-point lead.
Boyd was once again involved as the Broncos seemed to flick a switch in attack, as he held off Talakai and released a soft pass to Staggs to crash over.
The Sharks were continuing to push for a try to get back into the game.
Once again, Ferris found himself with possession with just Farnworth to beat, but after picking up a knock in the tackle, the young centre dropped the ball to let the Broncos off the hook.
With ten minutes of the game remaining, Cronulla finally found a way through after Johnson flicked the ball away above his head to Kennedy, who made sure Sione Katoa would collect the ball and cross for his 12th of the season.
Minutes later, The Sharks took the lead, much to the Broncos fans dismay.
Wade Graham and Talakai drew the Brisbane right side defence in to release Mulitalo, who kicked back inside off the outside of his boot, and Connor Tracey collected after tracking on the inside for his first NRL-try as well.
With two minutes to go, Cronulla all but wrapped up the game.
Hamlin-Uele was the scorer as he showed brute strength to bounce out of the tackle of Joe Ofahengaue and three other Brisbane defenders and score.
FULL-TIME: Brisbane Broncos 26-36 Cronulla Sharks
Boyd, Kennar, Staggs, Farnworth, Coates, Milford, Dearden, Flegler, Turpin, Haas, Ofahengaue, Pangai Junior, Carrigan
Interchanges: Luke, R. Kennedy, Bullemor, Te’o
Tries: Staggs(2), Kennedy, Kennar(2)
Goals: Staggs (3/5)
W. Kennedy, Katoa, Talakai, Ferris, Mulitalo, Johnson, Trindall, Hamlin-Uele, Brailey, Woods, Nikora, Graham, Williams
Interchanges: Tracey, Rudolf, Wilton, Hunt
Tries: Mulitalo, Talakai, Ferris, Katoa, Tracey, Hamlin-Uele
Goals: Johnson (6/6)
Referee: M. Cecchin
Touch Judges: G. Badger, M. Noyen
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)