NRL Match Report | Sharks v Titans
In another nail-biting finish the Sharks have finally had one go their way, with a Valentine Holmes field goal gifting them a golden point victory over the Titans.
The Sharks trailed for most of the contest, hit the lead with under 10 minutes to go, before giving up a late Titans try which leveled the score, sending the match into extra time.
After an outstanding defensive set from the kick off restricted the field position of their opponents the Sharks moved into an attacking zone and Holmes did the rest, a wobbly looking drop kick sending the Cronulla side home with the two competition points.
Interestingly at the post match press conference skipper Wade Graham admitted he may have chosen to receive the ball first had he won the over-time toss and a different outcome may have resulted.
“Dougie (Luke Douglas) wanted the ball when he won the toss and to be honest I was going to do the same thing,” Graham said. “My theory in golden point is you’ve got to have the ball to win the game.
“But we defended well, got good field position and Val made the big play.”
Both teams had their chances early but it took until the 24th minute of the match for the deadlock to be broken, Ryan James crossing for the Titans after repeated penalties had put his side on the attack.
Aidan Sezer converted and it was 6-0 to the Titans.
Seven minutes later that advantage was doubled in dubious circumstances, a rebound off Wade Graham bouncing into the arms of David Mead with the Gold Coast winger dashing 90 metres to score untouched.
The referees sent the apparent try to the video official and while it appeared the Titans had touched the ball before Mead had scooped it up, they deemed there was insufficient evidence to over-rule the on field decision.
Sezer again added the extras and the Titans led 12-0.
Another Sharks error put the Titans back on the attack and while some desperate defense denied the home team a another penalty gifted them two points as the score blew out to 14-0.
On the stroke of half time their was a semblance of joy for the Sharks when Ben Barba chimed in on a back line, drew and passed to Gerard Beale who they put Valentine Holmes over in the corner.
Micheal Gordon couldn’t convert with the clock ticking down to half time and the Titans would go to the break up by 14-4, with five Sharks errors and a completion rate of just 69 per cent letting them down in the opening 40 minutes.
A penalty goal put the Titans further in front but the Sharks would bite back soon after, Luke Lewis running hard onto a Michael Ennis pass to crash over adjacent to the uprights.
Gordon was this time on target and the Sharks were back in it at 16-10 behind at the 50-minute mark.
A third Titans penalty goal, this one for off-side against the Sharks, put the margin back out to eight, but an awful Gold Coast error allowed the Cronulla side back into the contest when a Barba bomb was spilled and Holmes was on the spot to touch down for his second of the evening.
Gordon’s kick rebounded off the upright but went over for a goal and at 18-16 with 20 minutes remaining it was anyone’s game at 18-16 Titans.
The ensuing kick off went out on the full and the Sharks went back on the attack and again it was an error at the back that should have proved costly for the home team only for another video refereeing decision to go against the Cronulla team as the Titans maintained their narrow lead.
The Sharks kept the pressure on and finally they were rewarded, Jack Bird showing good strength to overpower the defense for a try to put the Sharks on top for the first time all night.
Gordon added the extras and with around five minutes left on the clock the Sharks led by four.
But to the frustration of coach Shane Flanagan the Sharks again failed to close out the match in regulation, a error leading to a try wide out by Titans winger Anthony Don.
Sezer had the chance to give his team the lead with two minutes left but his kick sailed to the right and the teams would go to golden point, with the rest history.
The win was a much-needed one for the Sharks and sees them move to eight points ahead of the bye next weekend.
The next assignment for the Sharks is a match against local rivals the St George Illawarra Dragons in round 12.
Valentine Holmes 2, Luke Lewis, Jack BIrd tries Michael Gordon 2 goals
Ryan James, David Mead, Anthony Don tries, Aidan Sezer 4 goals
Minute by minute scoring
24 mins – Titans 6-0 - James try, Sezer goal
31 mins – Titans 12-0 - Mead try Sezer goal
34 mins – Titans 14-4 – Sezer goal
38 mins – Titans 12-4 – Holmes try
46 mins – Titans 16-4 - Sezer goal
50 mins – Titans 16-10 – Lewis try
54 mins – Titans 18-10 – Sezer goal
58 mins – Titans 18-16 – Holmes try
73 mins – Sharks 22-18 – Bird try, Gordon goal
76 mins – 22-all – Don try
83 mins – Sharks 23-22 – Holmes field goal