The Cronulla Sharks have moved into the top eight after accounting for the St George Illawarra Dragons 18-12 at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In a match riddled with errors, a fortuitous try to Bronson Xerri in the dying stages saw the Sharks survive in front of 13,652 supporters to claim back-to-back wins in the same season against their long-standing rivals for the first time in 11 years.
Following a frenetic opening quarter in which both teams struggled to remain composed with the football, Aaron Woods (17th minute) put the Sharks on the board by diving on a well-weighted grubber from Jayden Brailey close to the line.
Doubling their lead moments later after a brilliant line break from Wade Graham inside his own half, Castleford-bound speedster Sosaia Feki (20th minute) crossed in the right corner to give the home side a 12-0 lead.
Needling a slice of luck to get back in the contest, a horror bounce for Matt Moylan saw rookie forward Jackson Ford (35th minute) collect his maiden NRL try to send the Dragons to the sheds trailing 12-6.
After a wealth of possession in the second half brought on by a succession of Cronulla errors, the Dragons levelled the scores at 12-all following a powerhouse run from Luciano Leilua (64th minute).
Forced to play out the final stages with no interchanges after Patrick Kaufusi, Ben Hunt and Tyson Frizell all failed HIA protocols throughout the match, the Dragons refused to surrender under the circumstances and looked headed to go to golden point after a heroic try-saving effort from Cameron McInnes on Xerri with ten minutes to play.
Not to be denied on second attempt, Xerri (75th minute) put himself in the right place at the right time to latch onto a wayward Shaun Johnson bomb to secure the 18-12 victory after the bunker was unable to find conclusive evidence of Graham knocking on during the critical passage of play.
As a result of the win Cronulla move ahead of Penrith into eighth position due to a superior for-and-against differential.
Next week, the Sharks host the Warriors at PointsBet Stadium on Saturday afternoon, while the Dragons return to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium to take on the Roosters later that evening.