Though sitting top and flying high on the back of fifteen consecutive NRL wins, the Sharks head to the Gold Coast well aware that they’re set for a tough encounter with the Titans on Monday.
The Titans themselves head into the clash with the League leaders having scored back-to-back wins over the Dragons and Eels respectively, and on recent form, look poised to feature in Finals football come the season’s climax.
A trend in the meetings between the sides of recent times, Shane Flanagan and his men are expecting another tight tussle with the Titans this time around.
With the last five matches between the clubs decided by a total of just 16 points, forward Wade Graham knows he and the side must prepare for another gritty, grinding clash with the Titans big men on Monday.
“They’ve had a really good season so far, over the last month they’ve really been one of the form teams in the comp,” Graham said on Friday.
“They’ve got a big forward pack … I think they’re a brilliant team, and I love the way they play. The way they’ve been playing, we’re really going to have to be at our best.
“Every week is exciting. You’ve got to be up for the challenge, and up for the battle. Monday night will be exactly the same.”
Returning to the Sharks fold last weekend to take on the Knights – along with fellow NSW Blues representatives Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita, James Maloney and Jack Bird – Graham said he was glad to be back on deck, with club footy and a finals push at the fore of his, and the team’s, mind.
“For us, it’s about re-focussing in on us. Making sure we’re getting ‘us’ 100% right, and to make sure we’re giving ourselves the best opportunity to finish the year off well.”
Key Match-Up: Andrew Fifita v Ryan James
Andrew Fifita and Ryan James go head-to-head in a battle of the skilful big men, in the middle of the field.
Few clubs would rely on their prop to lead the side in linebreaks, though the Titans have found great success in the hard-running style of James this season.
James – with seven line breaks, and seven tries to his name this season – has been a focal point in the Titans attack, though not detracting from his work rate.
Fifita meanwhile leads the Sharks for average metres run (163m per game) and offloads (39), his 64 tackle busts second only to the explosive Ben Barba (66).
The showings of Fifita and James will no doubt have a huge say in their side’s successes come the end of the 80 minutes.
Head-to-Head: Played: 14, Sharks (8 wins) Titans (6 wins)
At Cbus Super Stadium: Played 4, Sharks (2 wins) Titans (2 wins)
Last 5 Meetings:
Round 6, 2016: Sharks 25 def. Titans 20 @ Southern Cross Group Stadium, Woolooware.
Round 10, 2015: Sharks 23 def. Titans 22 @ Cbus Super Stadium, Robina.
Round 4, 2015: Titans 24 def. Sharks 22 @ Southern Cross Group Stadium, Woolooware.
Round 1, 2014: Titans 18 def. Sharks 12 @ Southern Cross Group Stadium, Woolooware.
Round 1, 2013: Sharks 12 def. Titans 10 @ Southern Cross Group Stadium, Woolooware.
HTH: Sharks ($1.43) v Titans ($2.90)
Line: Sharks -6.5 ($1.92) v Titans +6.5 ($1.92)
First Try Scorer: Valentine Holmes ($7.50), Ben Barba ($10), Luke Lewis ($21), Nene Macdonald ($11), Konrad Hurrell ($13), Ryan James ($13).
*Prices quoted 12:00pm Friday, July 29. For the latest odds and more markets on the match, click HERE.