After being widely written off following the abrupt departure of coach John Morris, Cronulla are hellbent on maintaining their "proud history" of making the finals.
And with Josh Hannay now at the helm, the Sharks moved a step closer to extending their playoffs streak to a seventh year with a gritty 20-12 win over the Warriors at Netstrata Jubilee Oval on Sunday.
Cronulla sit in eighth spot - ahead of the Knights on differential - on 16 points, but the Raiders, Titans, Cowboys (all on 14 points) and the Warriors (12 points) are among a mid-table logjam.
Match: Sharks v Warriors
Round 17 -
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
But given the Sharks play only two current top-eight teams - the Sea Eagles (6th) and Storm (1st) - on their run home, they look well-placed to defy their earlier knockers and clinch a finals berth.
It's been some resurrection for Cronulla, who lost five games after the popular Morris was suddenly moved on in April.
"We're in a dogfight with half a dozen teams to play finals footy this year," interim mentor Hanney said post-match.
"This club's got a proud history of playing finals football and these players take that history really seriously. They want to maintain that proud history and play finals this year.
Birthday boy Trindall gets his first NRL try
"It was a tough win. There's been a lot of talk about high-scoring contests and probably too much of that.
"I actually didn't mind tonight's game for a change. It was a rugged contest [against] a big forward pack, the Warriors.
"The conditions probably didn't allow for expansive football, but it was an old-fashioned dogfight out there between two teams [for whom] two points is really important every week from here on in.
"There were parts of that performance from us, particularly our goal-line defence, that when I look back on the game I'll be really proud of and really happy with, and so will the group."
The arm-wrestle returned in the greasy conditions with Cronulla, who led 20-6 at the break, held scoreless in the second half after finishing the opening term with a flurry.
As the Sharks dealt a genuine blow to the Warriors' top-eight hopes, Braden Hamlin-Uele pretended to punch teammate Jack Williams in one of the NRL's great try celebrations.
It was a shame there was no crowd because Hamlin-Uele's WWE-style post-try antics – earning $10,000 for the Mose Masoe appeal thanks to Sportsbet – would've sent fans into raptures.
The prop steamrolled Warriors fullback Reece Walsh to score his team's third four-pointer of the afternoon in the 35th minute.
Then – assisted by Williams' dramatic acting – he playfully knocked his teammate to the deck before mimicking The Rock's "people's elbow" signature move.
Hamlin-Uele has a future in wrestling after this celebration
"Hopefully, he's putting as much focus into his footy, Braden, as he did that try celebration," Hannay laughed.
"I've never seen it [done at training] … It's for a good cause, so at least that money's going to a worthwhile cause."
Sharks halfback Shaun Johnson showed why the Warriors will bring him home next season with a short-kicking masterclass that yielded several line drop-outs.
"He's probably less the big-play guy these days and he's more that veteran half that is understanding as he gets older the tempo of rugby league and when to pull the trigger and take a chance and when to play the percentage play," Hannay said of Johnson.
Meanwhile, Warriors coach Nathan Brown described the refereeing as "poor" and bemoaned a perceived lack of consistency around penalising high tackles.
In a positive, Matt Lodge had a solid impact on debut for the Warriors after gaining a release from the Broncos last week.
Trindall hits Tracey for Cronulla's first
But while the front-rower cranked out more than 115 metres, he gave away a crucial – if unlucky – penalty by hitting a falling Ronaldo Mulitalo in the head.
That allowed the Sharks to march downfield and it wasn't long before five-eighth Braydon Trindall crossed to mark his 22nd birthday with a try.
The hosts dominated until the break with Hamlin-Uele's barge-over effort followed by a penalty goal that put Cronulla firmly in command.
Walsh, returning from the hamstring injury that stopped him from making his Queensland debut in Origin II, touched down in the 16th minute.
The 19-year-old custodian – still only eight matches into his NRL career – has now scored in six consecutive games.
Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck sliced through to score his side's second try in the 57th minute, ensuring the Sharks didn't run away with the game.
Both teams could have suspension concerns.
Warriors forward Addin Fonua-Blake twice was placed on report (once for a crusher tackle and once for a high shot) while Lodge and Cronulla winger Sione Katoa will also be at the match review committee's mercy due to high tackles.
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