Cronulla will be the first team in 25 years to play finals football without having beaten a top-eight side during the regular season, but coach John Morris insists the unwanted stat does not worry him.
Saturday's 38-28 loss to Canberra was the Sharks' eighth defeat to a finals-bound side this season, but Morris said: "We beat a top-eight side next week and all that is forgotten.
"It's not ideal, I understand and get that, but if that was my motivation I would have run out my full-strength side tonight.
"These guys, it's their 18th game in a row since the coronavirus break and it's really taken a toll on them.
"I can 100 per cent get why coaches take the opportunity to rest players.
"We weren't going to change where we were on the ladder and even if I ran out my full-strength side, people would say 'well, you played against a Raiders side that's missing more than half of their team'."
It was a less than ideal precursor to their finals campaign, which will start with a re-match against Canberra next week.
Both coaches opted for a conservative approach to the last game of the round, which made for a bizarre game of football at Kogarah.
However, the rookie Raiders side simply had more polish, holding on even after losing Corey Harawira-Naera to the sin bin for a professional foul in the final five minutes.
Hooker Tom Starling and back-up halfback Sam Williams - who captained the side for the first time in Jarrod Croker's absence - starred in the resounding win.
In his 15th NRL game Starling created havoc through the Sharks' middle with three line-breaks, a try and a try assist in the first half alone.
A try in the 22nd minute was a special moment for the 29-year-old Williams, who was a regular starter for the Raiders over seven seasons but played his first game of the year on Saturday.
"I was very happy for the young blokes," Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said.
"They started to get loose in the end because there were so many players who haven't played and I was just so happy they didn't get too loose and they came home and got us.
"I wanted them to savour that moment and enjoy their debuts and first games."
While the Raiders were undermanned, the Sharks were undercooked and had their own problems.
Skipper Wade Graham returned from suspension at five-eighth, making it the third time in six games the Sharks have been without their first-choice halves Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend.
Quick scores from Graham and Bryson Goodwin gave Cronulla a glimmer of hope midway through the second half but their hard work was all undone on the next set.
The Raiders forced a dropout with a strong chase from the kick off, but the return kick from Graham landed flush in the arms of winger Harley Smith-Shields who ran 30 metres to score.
The brain fade moment gave the Raiders a 38-22 lead that was too big to chase for the disorganised Sharks.
They will now be the first team since North Sydney in 1995 to go into the play-offs not having beaten any of the other finalists.
Meanwhile, Raiders forward Ryan Sutton is expected to miss the finals after he was taken from the field in the first half with a suspected MCL injury.