Sharks go down in season-opener
Without the likes of Todd Carney, Beau Ryan, Luke Lewis, and Jeff Robson it was always going to be tough, losing Paul Gallen in the first 30 minutes with an ankle injury only made it that much harder as a gallant Sharks team went down to the Gold Coast Titans.
Despite a gutsy defensive effort from the Sharks in the end run they couldn’t hold out the Gold Coast team, a 72nd minute try giving the Titans a narrow 18-12 triumph.
It was a dour affair, “a little bit sloppy at times” as coach Peter Sharp described it post-game, and a match where the Sharks were never really on the front foot.
The match began with the Sharks seemingly forced to tackle for the majority of the first 15 minutes off the match but it was somewhat against the run of play that saw them post first points.
A Paul Gallen off-load was scooped up by Tinirau Arona, who in his first game for the club saw some space then showed good speed to beat Albert Kelly and a couple of other would-be defenders in a determined dash to the line.
Michael Gordon was successful with his conversion attempt and after 18 minutes the Sharks were ahead 6-0.
The home team looked to have added to their advantage when Jonathan Wright won the race to the ball out wide but the video referee denied the four-pointer after the Sharks winger put his foot on the touch in goal line.
Encouraged by their let off the Titans managed to make a long line break down the Sharks right hand side and three plays later it was Greg Bird crashing his way over for his teams’ first points.
Shortly after the pivotal moment in the match saw Gallen twisted in a tackle and as a result the Sharks skipper, in his 233rd NRL game for the club, limped off the field nine minutes before half time.
The early diagnosis was an ankle strain but the extent was yet to be known, with the Sharks inspirational leader would play no further part in match.
With momentum shifting the Titans took their first lead of the night when Albert Kelly would claim an intercept and outdistance the defense in a 90-metre run to the line and while Adam Sezer was wide with his kick at goal the visiting team would go to half time in front by 10-6.
The second half began with a disallowed try to Dave Taylor and for a second time momentum shifted, this time in the Sharks favour.
After earning a dominant share of possession the Sharks mounted some concerted pressure on their opponents line it was stand-in skipper Wade Graham who would dive over after winning the race to a Daniel Holdsworth grubber kick.
Gordon again converted and after 50 minutes the Sharks led 12-10.
A Sezer penalty goal brought the scores level, before the Titans would go ahead, fullback Will Zillman accepting a fortuitous bounce from a Kelly kick to score wide out.
Sezer was again on target and the Titans had a six point lead which they defend through to the full time hooter.
The Sharks were well-served on the night by Matt Prior and Tinirau Arona in the forwards, winger Sosaia Feki did all that was asked of him on the flank, while Graham tried hard in the unaccustomed role of five-eighth.
The Sharks now have a seven-day turnaround before another Monday night game, this time against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.
Wade Graham, Tinirau Arona tries, Michael Gordon 2 goals
Greg Bird, Will Zillman, Albert Kelly tries, Aiden Sezer 3 goals