The St George Illawarra Dragons were defeated 28-8 by the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Remondis Stadium, Cronulla on Sunday.
The Red-and-Whites scored only the two tries in the loss with centre Charly Runciman crossing the stripe twice.
Head Coach Paul McGregor was forced to make several changes to the line-up announced midweek following the late withdrawal of halfback Benji Marshall due to a hamstring strain.
Dragons National Youth Competition team pivot Drew Hutchison slotted into the vacated role to and made his first-grade debut in doing so.
The Albion Park Rail junior was joined by utility Charly Runciman who slotted on to the wing for team mate Justin Hunt, who shifted to the fullback role following the decision to rest Josh Dugan.
Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson was also omitted after the decision was made to rest him following his hamstring strain which meant Jake Marketo was elevated from the interchange bench.
Fellow Dragons second-rower Nathan Green earned his second call-up to the bench in consecutive weeks and joined props George Rose and Mark Ioane as well as hooker Heath L’Estrange.
The Dragons entered the local derby in search of returning to winning ways, having lost their previous four competition outings by narrow margins.
The visitors had not recorded a win since coincidently their previous local derby encounter against their hosts which had ended in a victorious 42-6 routing back in Round 12
Unfortunately, the game did not initially go to script for the Dragons after winger Sosaia Feki managed to outmanoeuvre three markers and score in the fourth minute.
The Sharks doubled their lead through the efforts of barging second-rower Luke Lewis in the 24th minute before winger Valentine Holmes added an additional four points with his dive over the try line three minutes later.
Sharks fullback Michael Gordon converted both attempts at the tee to make it 16-0.
The Dragons had been forced to compete with very limited possession for the majority of the first stanza but finally managed to breach the opposition’s defence a minute before the break courtesy of winger Charly Runciman.
The Dragons were compounded towards to end of the match by two late tries to the Sharks.
Sharks prop Andrew Fifita was the first to cross in the 68th minute of play before utility Ben Barba followed suit minutes later.
Sharks winger Valentine Holmes converted both attempts to make it 28-4.
The visitors did though manage a consolatory late try to Runciman in the 74th minute.
St George Illawarra Dragons 8. Tries: Runciman (2). Goals: Widdop (0/2).
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 28. Tries: Feki, Lewis, Holmes, A Fifita, Barba. Goals: Gordon (2/3), Holmes (2/2).