The top-eight would be wrapped up if the Cronulla Sharks avoided defeat against the New Zealand Warriors, but the visitors were still looking to charge towards the finals.
With nothing to lose, the Warriors started with more physicality, but it was the Sharks who got the first chance.
Sione Katoa made a huge run down the right wing before kicking ahead.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck seemed to take Katoa out off the ball but was not penalised as the ball rolled over the dead ball line.
Brailey kicked in behind the Warriors line in the 10th minute, but Aaron Woods couldn’t quite ground the ball.
Just a few minutes later, an early kick from Shaun Johnson exploited the gap in behind the wingers and Katoa raced ahead to gather and score his 15th try of the season.
In the 25th minute, the Warriors looked like they were in for all money as Isaiah Papali’i offloaded out the back to Harris-Tavita but the half-back was wrapped up in a last ditch tackle by Johnson.
Just on the half hour mark, Johnson then kicked in behind on the short side.
The ball was missed by Josh Dugan, but not by Ronaldo Mulitalo who touched down to extend the home sides lead.
Wade Egan was called offside two metres later. This allowed Johnson to convert the penalty and make it 12-0 with five minutes until the break.
The Warriors made sure they’d score before the break though as Tuivasa-Sheck stepped off his right foot to make a half-break, and offloaded to Jack Murchie to pick up his third try of the season.
HALF-TIME: Cronulla Sharks 12-6 New Zealand Warriors
The fast paced action continued at the start of the second half, and the Warriors hit back in the 50th minute.
On the back of three penalties from the Sharks, the visitors pushed the ball out to the right-wing and Adam Pompey dived into the corner to score.
Harris-Tavita converted from the sideline to lock up the scores at 12-12.
On the hour mark, Briton Nikora was penalised for a dangerous tackle just over 40-metres out, but Harris-Tavita struck sweetly to give the Warriors a two-point lead.
Despite only being down 12-14, the Sharks seemed to be struggling to stay in the game, with errors aplenty.
The Warriors were also conceding penalties though, turning the game into a tighter contest than expected.
Johnson kicked through on the last for Katoa to chase, but the winger failed to grab the ball before Jesse Ramien gathered and grounded the ball.
Katoa was deemed to have knocked on though and the Warriors still led.
With six minutes left, following a charging run from Shaun Johnson, Toby Rudolf picked up a short pass from Brailey just 10-metres out and broke four tackles to power over for his first NRL-try.
The game was wrapped up in the 78th minute.
Katoa made a 40-metre break following an error from the Warriors, and just three tackles later Mulitalo was given the ball on the left edge and grounded to secure the Sharks spot in the finals
FULL-TIME: Cronulla Sharks 22-14 New Zealand Warriors
Kennedy, Katoa, Dugan, Ramien, Mulitalo, Tracey, Johnson, Hamlin-Uele, Brailey, Woods, Nikora, Talakai, Rudolf
Interchanges: Wilton, Williams, Fifita, Hunt
Tries: Katoa, Mulitalo (2), Rudolf
Goals: Johnson (3/5)
New Zealand Warriors
Tuivasa-Sheck, Pompey, Perham, Hiku, Jennings, Nikorima, Harris-Tavita, Taunoa-Brown, Lawton, Harris, Papali’i, Murchie, Tevaga
Interchanges: Blair, Egan, Alvaro, Burr
Tries: Murchie, Pompey
Goals: Harris-Tavita (3/3)
Referee: M. Cecchin
Touch Judges: B. Sharpe, D. Munro
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)