The Gold Coast Titans had another big scalp in their sights but a biting furore and send off has ruined any chance of staying close to the Cronulla Sharks.
At 12-all with 25 minutes remaining, it was anyone's game before Titans captain Kevin Proctor was sensationally sent off after being accused of biting.
The rare decision is saved for the worst of the worst and referee Henry Perenara believed the evidence was clear, sending Proctor from the field for biting Sharks star - and Kiwis teammate - Shaun Johnson.
"You were choking me, you were choking me, who's the f***ing sook," Proctor said clearly on microphone as the New Zealand pair jawed at each other.
Johnson then showed teammates and trainers his arm with Perenara trying to clarify "so there's a definite bite?"
He immediately floated the send off with evidence from the bunker.
"We've got vision of a bite so you're off," Perenara said.
The commentators were baffled by the commotion until it was clear a bite had taken place.
"This is a sensation," Dan Ginnane said on Fox League.
"Extraordinary, a send off, it's so rare, and for a bite, the refs are certain that the claim of the bite was left. And the replays suggest that Kevin Proctor has a big problem."
But post-match, the plot thickened with Titans coach Justin Holbrook saying he "can't afford the fine, so can't say a lot".
He added that he had asked questions and that there was "no on-field complaint by the player" and said they should bring the officials into the game to answer the questions.
"I thought we'd created a lot of chances in the first half and it came down to one big decision," Holbrook said. "There are just too many people, we've done well going to one ref, it's good but there are too many extra people coming into the game."
He also suggested that Johnson apologised after full-time.
Johnson brushed off the event after vision of the pair sharing a hug post-match.
"Nothing happened, let's just leave it at that," Johnson said. "We were both heated in the middle of the game, I was a little high on him, whatever happened happened, we're still mates. I just spoke to him then, it's his 250th and I didn't want this to dampen it at all. He's been a great player for so long, and has led to with his actions his whole career. I think it's inappropriate and it doesn't do Kevvy any justice to speak about this, he's a great player and I've loved playing with him at Kiwi level, so nothing but respect for him."
Johnson refused to go any deeper and said they "were still good friends and what happens on the field stays on the field and don't need to talk about it".
Proctor has only had one charge in his career so far way back in 2012, while Johnson said he "doesn't see the value of taking it any further than what's happened here today", refusing to front the judiciary to explain his side of the story if required.
Braith Anasta said it was "clear as day, definite bite there from Kevin Proctor on Shaun Johnson and Shaun Johnson didn't know what to do".
The last send off was earlier this season when Addin Fonua-Blake was sent off for dissent after full-time against the Newcastle Knights when he abused a referee with a slur.
It also left the Titans vulnerable on the field with three tries within 10 minutes taking the Sharks to 30-12 before a late Keegan Hipgrave try made it 30-18 at full-time.
Ginnane asked Anasta if there was anything that warranted a reaction at all.
"No there isn't, he's not choking him either, his arm is around his mouth," he said.
Incredibly it was Proctor's 250th game as well. The Fox Sports Lab also revealed the last bite was in the 2012 Grand Final, which saw James Graham getting 12 weeks.
Rugby league Immortal Mal Meninga questioned whether Johnson had officially made a complaint and said it was "out of character" for Proctor.
Channel 9's Erin Molan even suggested Johnson's arm opened Proctor's mouth.
"I don't know if it was a bite? It looks bad but once you look closer it looks almost like Johnson's arm forces Proctor's mouth open and that whilst Proctor's teeth are on Johnson skin – it doesn't look like he clamps down? Thoughts," she tweeted.
But Cooper Cronk, who played alongside Proctor at the Storm,
"The pictures do not lie," he said. "The integrity of our competition must remain considering we inspire a lot of junior rugby league players to play the game and have mums and dads follow it. The body language of Kevin, I know him well and that's a very remorseful guy. But he's going to have one tough week heading up to the judiciary and he's going to have, I'd imagine, a fair suspension to think about those actions and a chance to redeem himself late in this year or possible into next season."