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Sharks kicking woes return in Raiders loss

Cronulla's goal-kicking problems have reared their head again with the Sharks copping a heartbreaking 12-10 loss to Canberra in Kogarah on Sunday night.

Chad Townsend has taken over kicking duties while Shaun Johnson is sidelined, with the Sharks halfback missing three of four shots at goal including two to level the game in the final minutes.

The Sharks had rallied against a terrible 67 per cent completion rate to fight their way back into the match and a penalty with one minute left on the clock gave them the perfect chance to send the game into golden point.

However, Townsend's poor night with the boot was the difference in what was a scrappy affair for both sides in Wade Graham's 250th NRL game.

Sharks coach John Morris refused to lay blame at Townsend's feet, saying cheap turnovers and a poor completion rate spoiled their chances.

"He kicked six from six last week, Chaddy, and he's been outstanding all pre-season," Morris said.

"If you could see the amount of work he puts into his goal kicking, he's a true professional and that's why he'd be really disappointed in himself, but it shouldn't come down to that.

"The 18 errors in the game takes it toll, not goalkicking.

""Like any playmaker they probably wear it on themselves.

"I haven't spoken to him personally, but it's not about Chad Townsend. He set up two tries as well."

The Raiders had dominated the match with two tries, ball control and high possession until it all fell apart in the final 20 minutes.

Poor execution worked its way into their attack, turning the ball over several times on the line before a penalty with eight minutes on the clock gave the Sharks the chance they needed.

Wingers Bailey Simonsson and Ronaldo Mulitalo launched to compete for a Townsend bomb but neither took hold of it, leaving the loose ball free for Josh Dugan to pounce and score.

Townsend couldn't convert from the sideline and later missed a penalty kick on fulltime to take the game to golden point.

"I thought he'd correct his last kick, I thought he'd get it," said Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.

"But I can promise you I've lost a lot of those close games too, so I'm happy to be on the other end of that."

Conversions have been a problem for the Sharks in past seasons.

In 2019 they lost at least five games where they had scored more tries than their opponent, but Morris said he's not concerned that the same thing can happen this season.

Will Kennedy continued his audition to claim the Sharks' No.1 jersey full-time with his third try in two weeks when he cleaned up a neat grubber kick from Townsend 55 minutes in.

The 23-year-old has a lock on the job for at least another six weeks, but will force Morris to make a decision once Johnson returns from an Achilles injury.

The star half is expected to return by round eight or nine, with regular fullback Matt Moylan filling in at five-eighth.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Kris put further pressure on coach Ricky Stuart to find a place for him in the side when Jarrod Croker returns with another confident performance on the left edge.

The 22-year-old was strong in defence and scored the first try midway through the first half, while Josh Hodgson put Hudson Young over on halftime for a 12-0 lead.

Croker has fully recovered from shoulder surgery and is a chance to return next week.

Meanwhile, with Jesse Ramien suspended for another fortnight, Morris may need to lean on his lean centre depth after hooking replacement Marwene Hiroti after a number of errors early in the second half.