Wade Graham's immediate NRL playing future is in doubt after the Cronulla skipper suffered his third concussion for the season in a heart-stopping 19-18 victory over leaders Penrith.
A week after Shaun Johnson was told by the Sharks he was not wanted for next season, the experienced halfback kicked the winning field goal from 35 metres out to sink Penrith with a minute left on the clock at Kogarah on Friday night.
The Sharks led 18-0 until the 58th minute when Matt Burton scored two tries and set up another to get the Panthers back in the game despite being without most of their Origin stars.
Graham, 30, copped two big blows to the head midway through the first half while attempting to make a tackle on Panthers winger Robert Jennings and groggily stumbled to his feet.
He passed the HIA in the sheds but was ruled out of the remainder of the game after showing symptoms of a concussion on the field.
To make matters worse, he hyper-extended his left knee when getting up.
Already this season Graham failed to finish games against Parramatta and Sydney Roosters with two concussions in 15 days before having a fortnight off.
He then copped another knock on his return match against Melbourne back in round eight, which raised concerns about his playing future and low-tackling technique.
At best, the Sharks could take their time with his return to the field considering that recent history.
His head knocks soured what was a brilliant victory for his team, in which Matt Moylan and Johnson starred.
Off-contract five-eighth Moylan put his case for a new contract under incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon next season by winding back the clock against his former club.
A 55-metre dash for the Sharks' first try tested his troublesome hamstrings but they held up to get Cronulla on the board after seven minutes.
Johnson also scored soon after, while lively winger Ronaldo Mulitalo got the Sharks to an 18-0 lead at halftime.
Faced with their just second loss of the season, the Panthers kicked into gear in the second half to liven up the contest, led by Burton with half an hour left to play.
Five of Penrith's rep players watched on from the sidelines with Nathan Cleary, Brian To'o, Jarome Luai, Isaah Yeo and Kurt Capewell rested 48 hours after the State of Origin opener.
Penrith forward Liam Martin was the only player to back up from Origin duty having punched out 30 minutes for the Blues in their 50-6 win on Wednesday night.
While immediate concernes will be for Sharks captain Graham, the Panthers have their own troubles.
Second-rower Viliame Kikau was taken off late in the game for a HIA, while hooker Api Koroisau was put on report twice - once for tripping and another for a lifting tackle on Aaron Woods.
Australian Associated Press