With the Steve Rogers Memorial Trophy up for grabs, Cronulla Sharks travelled to face a Manly Sea Eagles side without Tom Trbojevic in the hope of moving up the ladder.
The opening stages of the game were level between both sides, and it would take a great individual moment to break the deadlock.
After multiple set restarts in their favour, the Sharks came close on the right edge through Sione Katoa, but three tackles later they went over as Braden Hamlin-Uele, starting back-to-back games for the first time, received a short ball from Chad Townsend to crash over Joel Thompson to score.
Shaun Johnson converted to make it 0-6 after 15 minutes.
A few minutes later, despite a poor fifth tackle kick from Lachlan Croker, the Sea Eagles were nearly gifted a try after Bryson Goodwin let the ball bounce in front of his own posts but managed to clean up before Jake Trbojevic picked up an easy four-points.
From the resulting scrum, on the second tackle, the Eagles spread the ball left through Croker and Daly Cherry-Evans to find Jorge Taufua why dived over in the corner with plenty of room.
The handling errors were already an issue for both sides, but with heavy rainfall starting just after the 20th minute, they would become more frequent.
More so for Cronulla, when Briton Niukore failed to deal with Cherry-Evans kick along the wet surface and Moylan, who was offside, gathered the ball to gift the Sea Eagles an easy two points to level the scores through the boot of Reuben Garrick.
With ten minutes left of the half, an early kick from Shaun Johnson caught the Se Eagles off guard in behind their defence and Sione Katoa raced onto the loose ball and pushed off the tackle of Garrick and Taufua to score.
With the half closing out, Matt Moylan was skipping across the Manly defence trying to find a gap, then just released the ball to the onrushing Jesse Ramien who went straight through the gap of Cherry-Evans and Brad Parker to score from 10-metres out.
HALF-TIME: Manly Sea Eagles 6-18 Cronulla Sharks
It didn’t take long for the Sharks to grab their fourth try, as in their first attacking set Chad Townsend thread a kick in behind the Manly right edge, and Josh Dugan raced onto the ball to score.
The Sea Eagles then seemed to capitulate, as a second try in as many minutes followed for the Sharks.
Shaun Johnson noticed Tevita Funa caught infield so threw a long pass out to Bryson Goodwin, who palmed off the desperate tackle attempt by Funa, and over the top of Garrick to score.
Cronulla then grabbed a sixth try moments later, when Johnson and Townsend combined, with impressive ball-playing skills, shifted the ball out right to the high-flying Sione Katoa who dived over on the right-wing.
With 20 minutes to go, Manly did manage to pull a try back, as Cherry-Evans put Trbojevic through a big gap, and with just Moylan to beat he passed inside to Addin Fonua-Blake for try number two.
Five minutes later, the Sharks looked to have regained their 28-point lead as Moylan’s kick wasn’t gathered by Manly so Blayke Brailey dotted the ball down.
There was some confusion in the build-up with Wade Graham falling over and colliding with Curtis Sironen, who was close to picking up the ball. However, after viewing the play in the Bunker, the try was awarded.
The Sea Eagles were doing all they could to make the scoreline more respectable, and Fonua-Blake made sure he did so.
Sironen was powering close to the line and looked to be just short when he suddenly flicked an offload off the floor to Fonua-Blake to dive over for his second.
A second consultation followed minutes later, as Fonua-Blake linked up with Cherry-Evans to push the ball out to Tevita Funa, who with inches to work with, dived over the tackle of Goodwin to score in the corner.
The Sharks ended the game with the hand, as Wade Graham kicked the ball out on the hooter.
FULL-TIME: Manly Sea Eagles 22-40 Cronulla Sharks
Manly Sea Eagles
Elliot, Taufua, Parker, Funa, Garrick, Croker, Cherry-Evans, Fonua-Blake, Levi, Keppie, Thompson, Sironen, Trbojevic
Interchanges: Taupau, Cust, Gosiewski, Paseka
Tries: Taufua, Fonua-Blake(2), Funa
Goals: Garrick (3/5)
Moylan, Katoa, Dugan, Ramien, Goodwin, Johnson, Townsend, Woods, Brailey, Hamlin-Uele, Nikora, Graham, Williams
Interchanges: Fifita, Rudolf, Talakai, Hunt
Tries: Hamlin-Uele, Katoa(2), Ramien, Dugan, Goodwin, Brailey
Goals: Johnson (6/7)
Referee: A. Gee
Touch Judges: P. Henderson, C. Sutton
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)