The Sharks had just scored when Finucane carted the ball back from the kick-off.
The Cronulla carnage did not end there with Jack Williams dislocating his right shoulder late in the first half.
Whitehead was given 10 minutes in the bin and joined Raiders teammate Corey Horsburgh who was given a time-out for diving at the legs of Ronaldo Mulitalo. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was also given a break in the first half.
“I don’t think I could have done much in that situation,” Whitehead said of the tackle. “It was pretty late contact, I thought it was pretty harsh to get the sin bin, but they [match review committee] will look at it and judge me through the week. Hopefully I’ll be all right.”
Dale Finucane heads for the sheds after another head knock.Credit:NRL Photos
Canberra raced out to a 20-0 lead at half-time as Cronulla struggled in attack, especially with Nicho Hynes shifted to fullback.
Hynes was having a rough afternoon and came up with a couple of errors. Former rugby sevens Olympian Laclan Miller was one fullback option, along with Luke Metcalf, but he had not trained in the position all year.
Braydon Trindall also made it easier to bring in a half rather than parachute in a new No. 1 for the suspended Will Kennedy.
“He [Hynes] has played alright at fullback before, so I thought he was going to do it again,” Fitzgibbon said.
Brad Schneider scores for the Raiders.Credit:Getty
“Braydon has done a lot of training with us as well.
“He hasn’t had a whole heap of NRL halves experience, we drop him right in it in the space of a week … we just didn’t combine in the fashion we have had [in the past].”
Stuart’s men deserved the two competition points. They have now strung two wins together and will welcome back their inspirational five-eighth Jack Wighton from suspension for next Sunday’s trip to Dubbo, where South Sydney await.
For all the talk about Melbourne losing their halfback and fullback in the space of a week, Stuart politely pointed out they had been battled disruptions to their own spine all year.