Sydney Roosters scrape home against Cronulla Sharks | PHOTOS

Returning NSW captain Paul Gallen accused a referee of laughing when Sydney Roosters scored a crucial try in their drought-breaking win at Remondis Stadium.

When Shaun Kenny-Dowall snatched Todd Carney's cross-field kick out of the air and raced 95 metres to score with 19 minutes left, he broke 12-12 deadlock and it was the Roosters' first second-half points in a month.

But as James Maloney lined up the conversion, Gallen - a late inclusion after overcoming an ankle injury - approached referees Alan Shortall and Henry Perenara.

"You looked straight at me and you were laughing," Gallen said.

"I was not laughing," one of the referees could be heard saying over the match officials audio system.

"Be very careful what you say."

While the try looked like being match-deciding, the Sharks refused to go away, with winger Sosaia Feki racing upfield to touch down five minutes later and tied the scores 18-18.

But then Kenny-Dowall had the real last laugh when he posted his second touchdown, chasing a kick for a converted try in the 71st minute.

Sydney Roosters led 12-6 at the end of an off-kilter and bizarre first half.

The weirdness started after just one minute, when Tricolours lock Aiden Guerra tripped over with the line open and not a hand on him.

Gallen's pass to Carney went to ground soon afterwards - then an unheralded Cronulla player ran 45 metres through three of the sport's biggest names for the opening try.

Centre Ricky Leutele brushed aside Sonny Bill Williams and then beat the cover defence of Anthony Minichiello and Mitchell Pearce to score, with fullback Michael Gordon making it 6-0.

Second-rower Boyd Cordner's response was simple but came after a pass from a winger, Roger Tuivasa-Shek. Maloney's conversion levelled the ledger for the 20-minute mark.

The final try of the first half, four minutes later, was a particularly strange one.

It was Cronulla who made the initial break, Carney kicking for himself, and Mitch Aubusson held the five-eighth off the ball as he tried to regather.

But Aubusson had no way of knowing Carney had not regathered, as he was unsighted.

Gallen hacked the ball ahead, and Tuivasa-Sheck scooped it up, performed a compete 360 degree turn, and found Maloney who was suddenly in the clear. Maloney scooted 25 metres to the line as the crowd booed - but video referees Bernard Sutton and Steve Folkes flashed the green light.

Leutele thought he had a second try just before half-time but was unable to claim a loose ball he had toed into the in-goal.

The scores were level for a second time three minutes after the break when Sharks back-rower Wade Graham bustled his way over and Gordon goaled once again.

Continuing the recent spate of refereeing controversies, Sydney Roosters were denied what seemed a fair try when Cordner tapped a kick down to Jared Waerea-Hargreaves with 19 minutes gone in the second session.

The referees ruled immediately that the ball had travelled forwards but replays cast doubt on that call.

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