Last weekend was a heart breaker for the Sharks, a loss that came with less than 60 second left on the clock, as the New Zealand Warriors ‘stole’ the two competition points at Remondis Stadium.
An Andrew Fifita try with around five minutes remaining, followed by a sideline conversion from Valentine Holmes, seemed enough to get the Sharks home, before some Shaun Johnson heroics tipped the ledger in the Warriors favour.
It was a tough loss to take, but was one which coach Shane Flanagan explains, has the Sharks heading north to the Gold Coast intent on returning with a much-needed win.
“We’re going up there with a real determined attitude to get the two competition points, especially after last week’s last minute loss,” Flanagan said. “There’s a bit of fire in the belly of our boys and we need that to come out tomorrow against the Titans.”
When talking about frantic finishes and final minute losses, the Sharks don’t have to look too far back to recall another, their last heart breaker coming against their opponents this weekend the Titans.
Back in round four the Sharks led the Gold Coast side with the winning post in sight, only for a James Roberts intercept to sway the result in his teams’ favour.
It was another two points that got away, and in a competition as close as this years’ Telstra Premiership race, Flanagan hopes it won’t be a game they come to regret come the end of the season.
“Twice this year we’ve led until the 78th minute and lost. If we win those two games we’re in a really good position, inside the top four. But unfortunately we didn’t.
“We just need to get out there this week and get the result. It’s an important game for us.”
Sitting 14th on six competition points, the game as Flanagan expressed, is indeed an important one if the Sharks hope to keep pace with the front runners and they will have to get a win again without the services of skipper Paul Gallen.
Gallen was absent at the airport today as the team traveled to the Gold Coast, with his injury also ruling him out of State of Origin game 1, as well as the Sharks next match against the Dragons in round 12.
In his place for the Titans clash is a more than capable replacement, with NSW and Australian forward Luke Lewis moving into the lock position.
Unfortunately for the Sharks Anthony Tupou is out of action for an extended period, however in Wade Graham and Jayson Bukuya the Cronulla back row has a strong look about it, with Sami Sauiluma set to be used as a forwards replacement from the interchange bench.
Sauiluma, who became the Sharks 500th first grade player when he debuted last weekend, had impressed with his form for Cronulla’s NSW Cup partners the Newtown Jets earlier in the season.
Tim Robinson will also make the trip to Queensland as 18th man after also performing well for the Jets through the first nine rounds of the NSW Cup competition.
The Sharks and Titans have played just 12 times previously, with the honours shared at six wins apiece. In matches contested on the Gold Coast, the ledger reads two wins for the Titans, one for the Sharks.
Their previous meeting resulted in the 24-22 win to the Titans in sensational circumstances at Remondis Stadium, while in going back to their first meeting in 2011, the last time the teams met on the Gold Coast, it was the Sharks coming out on top by 36-12.
The Sharks v Titans match is scheduled for a 5.30pm kick off at Cbus Super Stadium, with the NYC clash to get underway at 3.15pm.
NRL Team List – Round 10
Sharks v Titans
Saturday, May 16
Cbus Super Stadium
Kick-off – 5.30pm
1 Ben Barba
2 Valentine Holmes
3 Gerard Beale
4 Blake Ayshford
5 Michael Gordon
6 Jack Bird
7 Jeff Robson
8 Andrew Fifita
9 Michael Ennis
10 Matt Prior
11 Jayson Bukuya
12 Wade Graham (c)
13 Luke Lewis
14 Sami Sauiluma
15 Tinirau Arona
16 David Fifita
17 Sam Tagataese
18 Tim Robinson