A raft of injuries and a second-half James Tedesco sin bin was not enough to prevent the Roosters from eking out their sixth successive win as the Sharks’ season ended in disappointing fashion for the second-straight year.
Joseph Manu went over for the Tricolours just two minutes in but was denied by video officials due to an obstruction in the lead-up.
Cameron McInnes was denied one for the hosts soon after with a desperate collection of Roosters defenders holding the wily lock up over the line.
The video officials were again brought into play when Jesse Ramien steamed through to ground a fumbled Braydon Trindall grubber only for Tedesco to get a hand to it on the turf first.
The Roosters’ defensive line eventually cracked with Nicho Hynes hitting a streaking Sione Katoa on the chest with a looping cut-out down the right flank for the contest’s opening points.
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The Tongan international improved the position for goal-kicking purposes but Trindall’s attempt was still waved away as the Sharks left a vital two points on the table.
Hynes, who renounced goal-kicking duties last week due to a quad injury that he has been managing, took over from Trindall and nailed a penalty goal just shy of the first quarter mark to make it 6-0.
A Jack Williams error looked to have gifted Joseph-Aukuso Sua’ali’i the Roosters’ first points of the night a half-hour in but replays showed a Manu knock-on in the lead-up.
Sua’ali’i did not return for the second half due to a concussion forcing the Roosters into a reshuffle with Manu shifting to the right wing and rookie Siua Wong into the centres.
After being held to zero for the opening 40, the Roosters responded in the early stages of the second stanza with Manu taking in a Walker cut-out and strolling over untouched to tie proceedings.
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Tom Hazelton was taken from the field in the aftermath with an abdomen injury and was unable to return.
Manu too was taken from the field with a hamstring issue that he had been battling with forcing the visitors into a further reshuffle.
Tedesco poured into the back-field soon after being dragged down by a covering Hynes but a botched grubber off the back of it saw Trindall streak back the other way before being run down by Tedesco and Lindsay Collins.
Hynes took off out of acting half off the back of it and was halted by an offside Tedesco who was sent to the bin 52 minutes in.
A Ronaldo Mulitalo try off some sharp Hynes handiwork wrestled the lead back for the Sharks with Tedesco off the field.
Blayke Brailey nearly grabbed the Sharks’ third off a Siosifa Talakai grubber but dropped the ball over the line.
The hosts improved their advantage to six via another penalty goal before Tedesco returned to play with less than a quarter of the game remaining.
A spirited Roosters outfit hit back entering the final 10 thanks to Wong who was the beneficiary of a ricocheted Sandon Smith grubber out of hooker.
With Walker contending with a leg issue, Billy Smith slotted the first goal of his NRL career to tie it at a dozen.
Walker’s 72nd-minute field goal put the Roosters ahead for the first time in the game as flashbacks to last year’s qualifying finals loss via a Valentine Holmes field goal shot through PointsBet Stadium.
Hynes had a pair of late field goal attempts charged down as the Roosters held on for a famous victory.
Wong scored a try, ran for 122 metres with nine tackle breaks, and made 31 tackles for the Roosters whilst Victor Radley ran for 141 metres with five tackle breaks and made 42 tackles.
Hynes assisted on both tries for Cronulla and ran for 169 metres whilst Briton Nikora ran for 102 metres and made 44 tackles.
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