Game 3 - NRL 9's - Sharks v Titans
It began with the big fella Sam Tagataese striding out to score a 40 metre solo try and finished with Matt Prior sprinting the same distance as the Sharks delivered their best performance of the Nines with a 30-14 win over the Gold Coast Titans.
It was an outstanding effort from a Sharks team playing without an injured Todd Carney, with the win seeing them move through the quarter finals of the NRL Nines tournament.
It was a brilliant start for the Sharks with Tagataese running around Albert Kelly out wide, then over the top of the Titans fullback in scoring with his teams’ first possession of the match.
Daniel Holdsworth kicked the goal from the close to the sideline and the Sharks had an early 6-0 lead.
After turning back an attacking advance from the Gold Coast side the Sharks again attacked and added to their tally with a clever solo effort from youngster Fa’amanu Brown, the utility player dummying , braking a couple of tackles then accelerating through the line to touchdown.
Holdsworth was wide with the drop goal attempt but the Sharks held the upper hand at 10-0 in front.
With the strong defense of the Sharks playing as big a role as their consistent work in attack, a Titans turnover again gifted them possession. This time it was Blake Ayshford scoring on what was the last play of the half, backing up Nathan Gardner and accepting a flick pass to score wide out.
Holdsworth was on line with his kick and the Sharks had a commanding 16-0 half time lead.
The Gold Coast opened their account through Mark Minchiello to make it 16-4, but the game was in safe keeping for the Sharks following a brilliant individual effort from one of their young guns.
Scooping up a loose ball on his own 30-metre line 18-year-old Valentine Holmes showed strength to crash through the middle of the Gold Coast defense then a sizzling display of speed to out-run the cover defense on a long distance sprint to the try line.
Albert Kelly would then score the Titans second to narrow the gap but the Sharks were in rhythm and far from done.
Ricky Leutele backed up a free running Sosaia Feki to score, Minichiello went over for his second for the Titans to make the score 24-14 to the Sharks, before Michael Lichaa put Prior through a hole with a perfectly weighted pass for the final score of the game.
With the Newcastle Knights registering a win over the Wests Tigers the Sharks will finish second in the ‘blue’ pool and face the first placed team from the ‘green’ pool, most likely to be the Parramatta Eels.
That game is scheduled for a 1.55pm kick off (Sydney time)