The Sydney Roosters are one game from the NRL grand final after Cooper Cronk inspired them to a 21-12 win over a gallant yet wasteful Cronulla at Allianz Stadium.
The minor premiers delivered a complete performance on Saturday night with magic man Cronk icing the game when he booted a field goal seven minutes from fulltime.
Shane Flanagan's side, who lost back-rower Wade Graham to a first half knee injury, will now return to Allianz Stadium on Friday night to meet Penrith in an all-or-nothing semifinal.
Despite losing Graham, the Sharks never gave up but they were guilty of blowing two rolled gold try-scoring opportunities when Ricky Leutele and Josh Dugan both made crucial errors.
Luke Lewis also looked certain to score when he grasped for a Chad Townsend kick only to drop the ball over the line when pressured by Latrell Mitchell.
From there, the Roosters raced up the other end of the field and Cronk booted the one-pointer to leave him on the verge of qualifying for his third grand final in three years.
After the Roosters carried a four-point lead into the second half, the Sharks edged in front when Edrick Lee swooped on a deft Townsend grubber and Valentine Holmes booted the extras from the sideline.
The Roosters re-gained the lead when Daniel Tupou flew high to bat back a Cronk bomb into Mitchell's hands, and pushed further in front when a dubious knock-on call against Townsend culminated in a try to Daniel Tupou despite a possible forward pass.
Earlier, Graham produced a skilful offload to send Sosaia Feki over out wide to open the scoring in the fifth minute, but soon after he departed after twisting a knee when trying to clean up a Cronk grubber from which the playmaker.
The Roosters emerged injury-free but Mitchell faces an anxious wait for the match review committee to review his second half grapple tackle on Josh Dugan.
Although not placed on report, the NSW Origin star has 75 carry over points and will miss a game if charged.
Meanwhile, Roosters coach Trent Robinson singled out Cronk's contribution as the team look forward to a week off.
"You could see Cooper's control over that game," he said.
"Kicking the ball back to them the way that he did, he got put under some pressure there in the second half and he had to get he ball away. And he just did it consistently.
"That's what you defend all year for, you don't just find it in a week, you set it up over your season. If you hold a team in semi-finals to two tries, you're going to win games."
Counterpart Flanagan described the match as one of missed opportunities, but was confident they could turn it around against the Panthers.
"Semi-final football you need to nail those opportunities and we had three genuine opportunities that we didn't nail," he said.
"They had similar ones, the catch in the air, they batted it back and it landed in someone's hands, they nailed them. That was the difference."