5 Key Points - Sharks v Titans
It was a disappointing evening for the Sharks who were looking for their fifth win in succession as the Titans scored a 76th minute try to score a narrow win.
The Sharks were a little short of their best and with the Gold Coast desperate for a win to kick start their 2017 season, the game went down to the wire.
What where the key points to come from the game, the big moments and some of the game changers at Southern Cross Group Stadium last night.
1. These two play it close
Close finishes have become something of a habit in matches between the Sharks and Titans with this one again going down to the wire.
It took a 76th minute try for the Gold Coast to edge ahead and win by four, with the result of another Sharks v Titans games again decided by less than a converted try.
Last year it was a draw and a five-point Sharks win, in 2015 it was 23-22 and 24-22 as the honours were shared, while it was 18-12 Gold Coast and 12-10 to Cronullla in the two games before that.
They play again in 2017 in round 19, with the smart money being on a 1-12 result for one of the two teams.
2. Three home losses a worry to Sharks
Coach Shane Flanagan went as far as to apologise to the members and fans at the post-match presentation for the loss, the Sharks third at home in 2017.
After winning 11 and losing just once at Southern Cross Group Stadium last year the Sharks are now one win, the 19-18 victory over the Knights, and three losses at home from their four games so far.
A healthy crowd of 12,397 turned up and did their best to get the Sharks home, but unfortunately they weren’t able to lift the boys to win.
The Sharks now have two away matches, against the Tigers then Dragons, followed by five home games in a row, with everybody hoping their fortunes change for the better very soon.
3. Life in the old legs ‘2’
Last week’s installment of ‘life in the old legs’ praised the performance of Chris Heighington in the win over the Panthers, while this time around it was skipper Paul Gallen who led the way for the Sharks forward pack.
In 71 minutes Gallen ran for a team best 204 metres on 21 carries, while also topping the tackle count with 38.
However in showing his team-first mentality Gallen was taking little consolation from his personal achievements, nor from his Coaches Award as handed out as the Sharks best at the post-match presentation.
The coach said it when talking to media earlier in the week that there is no requirement to show proof of age when running out onto the NRL field, with his senior brigade more than doing the job on a weekly basis.
4. Honours shared in fullback battle
While Jarryd Hayne had the last laugh as his team took home the two competition points, Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes more than matched his high profile opponent as his improvement and development at the back continues.
Holmes was safe under the high ball, pulled off a try-saver on Konrad Hurrell and ran the ball strongly on kick returns, totaling over 200-metres gained on the night, almost 100 metres more than his opposite number.
Hayne did have a hand in one Titans try, should have been responsible for another only for his winger to drop a well-timed pass and tipped a James Maloney penalty kick back into play in what were a couple of classy touches.
The fact that Hayne was voted man of the match might spark some debate, with his Neil Henry describing his performance as tidy rather than brilliant, but had the Sharks been able to hold on and register a win it might have been Holmes wearing the ANZAC medal after fulltime instead of the former San Francisco 49er.
5. Young guns show the way
For those who turned up early they were treated to an outstanding attacking performance from the NYC Sharks who managed to dismantle what is a reasonable Gold Coast side.
The young Sharks scored nine tries in a 52-16 romp, in the process consolidating a place in the top four, in an effort that followed on from a draw last week against competition leaders Penrith, stamping themselves as Holden Cup contenders in 2017.
There is a long way to go, but the early signs through the first eight rounds are good for John Morris’s squad.
The youngsters showed the way early in the day, the Sharks Women continued the momentum shortly after, but unfortunately for the home fans NRL boys failed to follow suit.