In a week where new Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie was stumped by the name of its mascot, Cronulla confused its fans by fading away against St George Illawarra, who overcome an early deficit to win 20-16 away from home.
The Sharks looked to have the match within their grasp a number of times, leading 14-0 after 26 minutes and then with a man advantage midway through the second half when the contest was locked at 16-16.
But after a near perfect first half in attack, Cronulla could only muster three play-the-balls with Jason Nightingale off the field for a professional foul, handing the Dragons back-to-back penalty goals and the four-point victory.
Ben Hunt and Gareth Widdop again showed the potential of their combination in the halves, as the Red V made use of a blustery wind at their backs in the second half.
They kicked for both of the Dragons’ initial two tries of the comeback, Widdop’s first highlighted by a miraculous leaping Nene Macdonald effort to get the ball down before his feet went out.
After Hunt fortuitously put Tyson Frizell in via a miskick following the half-time break, he and Widdop combined to put Euan Aitken outside his opposite centre to score.
Aitken also played a key role in the win, having moments earlier forced the ball loose from Josh Dugan as the former Dragon crossed the line in his first match at full-back for the Sharks.
Cronulla was left to rue blowing a first-half effort where it made just one handling error.
Matt Moylan’s impact was more pronounced than in last week’s loss to North Queensland, forcing two line drop-outs off his boot and having his first assist for Cronulla when he threw a bullet cut-out pass for Sosaia Feki.
His combination with Josh Dugan at full-back was also impressive, however the five-eighth blew a difficult chance to win the match for the Sharks when he fumbled a tough Kurt Capewell offload in front of the posts with minutes to play.
Meanwhile Valentine Holmes had an unhappy night back on the right wing.
He was jumped over by Macdonald for the Dragons’ first try, threw an intercept as the Sharks mounted pressure late in the opening half and then made another error early in the second.