15-man Sharks brave the Titans’ surge
As if losing James Maloney to concussion in the 18th minute wasn’t a big enough blow, Luke Lewis was also forced to watch on following a head knock on the brink of the half-time siren.
Down to just two on the bench, the Sharks big men were asked to play added minutes – and did so with little discomfort.
The Sharks could be excused for tiring late, but wary of a Titans side that was pressing hard for a win in the dying stages, the Cronulla boys found a way to lift when the chips were down.
Bird, Beale, Townsend rise in Maloney’s absence
Reverting to the ‘6’ role where he made his name last season, Jack Bird looked right at home in the Sharks halves when asked to partner Chad Townsend early in the match.
Gerard Beale slotted into his familiar right centre role, and not overawed when the match hung in the balance, the trio combined to send Valentine Holmes in to score in the North-eastern corner.
Valentine’s finish one for the ages
Cometh the moment, cometh the man – Valentine Holmes again ate up the pressure in the big moment to score in what is quickly becoming a trademark fashion.
Holmes’ diving effort was enough to see the Sharks to a 5-point front, and although unable to convert his own try, the lead was enough as the side hung on for a gutsy win.
Fifita rockets into the Blues frame
Holmes’ finish was just one example of the side capitalising on the great work done by the Sharks pack in the middle third of the field – not least that of Andrew Fifita.
Showing signs of his brilliant best, Fifita again ran for 190m+, and proved Johnny-on-the-spot when collecting Mick Ennis’ grubber to score.
In an effort that will have no doubt caught the eye of Blues Coach Laurie Daley, Fifita again displayed the form that saw him recognised the game’s best front rower in 2013.
Prior rock-solid and rewarded with a try
In playing a handy supporting role to Fifita, Matt Prior also impressed in a hard-hitting display – and he was rewarded with a try for his efforts.
The try – coming in the 18th minute of play – was Prior’s first try since Round 12, 2013, and his first in Sharks colours.
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