Cronulla Sharks denied Melbourne Storm the chance to go top of the league with a 17-14 victory at AAMI Park.
The Sharks scored in the eighth minute when Paul Gallen’s quick tap set up Jayden Brailey to score from dummy half.
After multiple penalties for the Storm, they scored their first try after great play by Will Chambers set up Suliasi Vunivalu.
With half-time looming, the NRL top try scorer, Valentine Holmes, gave Cronulla a bigger lead after superb build-up from Sosaia Feki. Then Townsend added a field goal to give the Sharks a two-try lead.
Melbourne ate into that lead early in the second half when Billy Slater marked the week he announced his retirement with a try.
But after surviving massive amounts of pressure, Cronulla hit back. Jesse Ramien ran upfield after a Storm mistake. When Ramien was caught by Josh Addo-Carr, Josh Dugan went from dummy half and had the strength to score.
Vunivalu’s second try of the game gave the Storm hope once again with seven minutes to play but Cronulla held on.
Storm: Slater, Vunivalu, Chambers, Scott, Addo-Carr, Munster, Hughes, J Bromwich, Smith, Asofa-Solomona, Kaufusi, Stimson, Finucane; Interchanges: Hoffman, K Bromwich, Glasby, Welch
Tries: Vunivalu 2, Slater; Goals: Smith
Sharks: Holmes, Dugan, Ramien, Leutele, Feki, Moylan, Townsend, Fifita, Brailey, Prior, Lewis, Graham, Gallen; Interchanges: Sorensen, Segeyaro, Woods, Bukuya
Tries: Brailey, Holmes, Dugan; Goals: Holmes 2; Field goal: Townsend
Full match reports of all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express.