The Go Sport Balmain Tigers now find it difficult to make this year's semi-finals after going down to the second placed Cronulla Sharks 34-18 at Toyota Park on Sunday.
The Sharks opened the scoring with 2 tries in the first 10 minutes to lead 10-0.
Winger Keith Eshman hit back for the Tigers out wide after making good ground down the right hand side of the field, kept the ball alive and spreading it left where five eighth Darren Rodgers spotted Eshman unmarked on the wing. Centre Franco Kmet converted to take the score to 10-6.
The Sharks then crossed in the left corner on the stroke of half time showing some great aerial ball skills and the sideline conversion took them into the main break leading 16-6.
The Tigers showed great resolve early in the second half, with lock Jarrod Farlow crossing while still down 2 men, one in the sin bin & one sent off. Winger Joe Harris converted to close it up at 16-12.
A few minutes later fullback Simon Greally then crossed under the posts after centre David Pangai made a terrific break through the right hand centres and linked with Greally 15m out on an angled run to the line. Harris added the extras and the Tigers were now in front 18-16.
With 17 minutes to go the Tigers became their own worst enemies as they committed far too many handling errors and gave away penalties through undisciplined play to allow the Sharks both possession and field position, and the toll of playing with one less man for over half the game became evident as Cronulla ran in 4 more tries to seal the win at full time 34-18.
Coach Jamie Shepherd would be disappointed with the way the players handled the frustrations of the opening half and allowing a winnable match to slip away towards full time. This could be the match that makes the difference between playing on in September or having an early finish to season 2005. Best performances were turned in by lock Jarrod Farlow, second rower Tim Tobin and halfback Clae Webb.