Sharks stun NRL leaders Roosters 32-22

Cronulla are the real deal and the race for the NRL minor premiership is well and truly back on after the Sharks stunned the ladder-leading Sydney Roosters 32-22 on Monday night.

Thumped 40-0 by the Roosters just five weeks ago, the Sharks completed a remarkable turnaround at Remondis Stadium - the victory set up by a brilliant opening half when the home side ran away to a 26-0 lead.

Conceding 30 points for the first time this season, the Roosters are now ahead of arch-rivals South Sydney by points-differential alone - setting up a potentially epic final round encounter between the two sides in just under a fortnight.

But this was Cronulla's time to stamp their premiership credentials, as they guaranteed at worst home-ground advantage in week one of the finals.

Sharks stun Roosters 32 -22. Getty Images
The tone was set in the opening set when the brilliant Todd Carney landed a 40-20 and then a delicate grubber for Paul Gallen to score in a dream start for the home side.

The half will be remembered for the three tries in the final nine minutes of the stanza that broke open the contest, but it was the desperate goalline defence which preceded the late onslaught which defined Cronulla's mentality.

Having repelled the best attack in the competition time and again, Cronulla took late advantage as the Roosters' discipline unravelled with Sonny Bill Williams giving away four first half penalties.

The giant Kiwi was unlucky to collect the last for a strip however, with replays indicating Ben Pomeroy had knocked on - but it proved crucial as the Sharks went on a points-feeding frenzy.

Michael Gordon, Johnathan Wright and Chris Heighington all crossed for tries against a rattled Roosters outfit - the last try summing up their effort with Heighington performing a one-on-one strip from Shaun Kenny-Dowall from ten metres out before waltzing over the line.

The Roosters threatened with two tries inside the opening 12 minutes of the second period, but their momentum was punctured when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was denied what would have been a spectacular four-pointer due to a Daniel Tupou obstruction.

Stand-in captain Mitchell Pearce argued his winger had nowhere to go - and no longer did the Roosters as Carney added three penalty goals to take the lead beyond three converted tries before two late tries added some respectability for the visitors.

AAP
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