Kotoni Staggs has claimed a knockout victory over Siosifa Talakai, helping a bloodied and bruised Brisbane to a 16-7 upset NRL win over Cronulla.
Their duel in the centres was the week's talking point after the pair's form saw them surge into NSW State of Origin contention.
But it was the Broncos firebrand who left Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night with the upper hand, smothering the rampaging Talakai and scoring a brilliant try of his own.
Victory burst the Sharks' bubble as they fell to 5-3, while Brisbane (4-4) will spend the night nestled inside the top eight on the live ladder.
The win came after Adam Reynolds copped a stray elbow to the nose in the 34th minute, the Broncos skipper returning for the second half swollen and stitched up after passing his head injury assessment.
"That's the big one, is the defence from the guys," thrilled Brisbane coach Kevin Walters said.
"Cronulla's been scoring a lot of points this year ... it just shows the unity they're building.
"Again tonight he's (Reynolds) at the heart of everything we're doing. Him and (Kurt) Capewell, Payne Haas."
Carrying a shoulder injury, Haas played through obvious discomfort in the first half, finally substituting with 25 minutes to play.
Staggs set the tone, stopping Talakai in a one-on-one tackle just five metres from the line and twice forcing turnovers on his opposite man.
But Talakai was not alone in his fumbles.
The Sharks looked slick in the first half but lacked polish at the pointy end of their sets, completing just 11 of their first 17.
It meant they missed their chance to build a lead, five-eighth Matt Moylan's grubber kick to himself their only try of the half.
Brisbane found a reply with Reynolds off the field, the impressive Tyson Gamble and Te Maire Martin going right to a rampaging Staggs who dummied and left both Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo in his dust.
Staggs then converted his own try from the sideline before Nicho Hynes slotted a field goal to send the Sharks to the sheds ahead 7-6.
The errors remained for the visitors after the break, another allowing Brisbane to strike early when Herbie Farnworth busted over off another Gamble pass.
Corey Oates then broke the line but couldn't find support, Kurt Capewell ensuring the points came later in the set when he stepped out of a tackle and stretched over the line.
Brisbane then missed chances to ice the contest but instead relied on their much-improved defence to see them home.
"It was a bit of a flat performance from us," Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon said.
"Kotoni got some confidence out of that (defending Talakai well), got himself into the game.
"But the whole team, it's unfair to isolate one player, didn't execute in the second half, I think that was pretty obvious."
Sharks fullback Will Kennedy was one of his side's best while Cameron McInnes was placed on report for a crusher tackle on Staggs.