NRL Preview - Sharks v Titans

They broke the Sharks 15-game winning streak in 2016 when they held the eventual premiers to a draw, before scoring a last-gasp victory at Southern Cross Group Stadium last year, with the Gold Coast Titans presenting a difficult challenge in recent times for the Cronulla team.

Missing a couple of their more experienced campaigners, playing away from home against a team desperate for a win to stay in touch with the top eight, and the task again promises to be a tough one for the Sharks side at Cbus Stadium on Saturday.

While downplaying somewhat the results from the last couple of outings against he Titans, Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan expressed the importance of his team in building on their solid victory over the Panthers by turning in another strong performance this weekend.

"In 2016 it was always going to come, I was always looking for us to lose a game before the finals, and we lost two or three after that," Flanagan said. "Then last year they jumped on a loose ball in the last few minutes, it was a bit of hot potato and they beat us at home.

"Its going to be a real competitive football game, do I think they've got it over on us, definitely not," Flanagan added.

But that's not to say the coach and his playing group doesn't have a healthy respect for a Titans outfit that is known for fighting all the way to the final siren.

"They've got some quality forwards, Origin front rowers, its only their second game at home and they'll be looking to get their season back on track," Flanagan said. "We've just got ours back on track and we need to stay on track.

"They've got a lot of spirit and it hasn't been easy when we've travelled up there previously.

"We need to be able to go week after week and to put a good block of footy together. We've got to go up there, scrap it out and get a win."

If they hope to register a second win in succession and their fourth of the 2018 season, the Sharks will have to do it without their two most experienced players in Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis, with the pair set to miss the next couple of weeks, Gallen with a knee injury, Lewis a calf problem.

On a positive, Wade Graham is expected to return after missing the Penrith match, while the Sharks will be hoping for another dominant performance from Andrew Fifita, the big front rower relishing the role of stand-in skipper against the Panthers.

"Wade trained well today and as long as he doesn't get any more hamstring tightness, he'll be good to play," Flanagan explained.

As for Fifita, a few short weeks ago there was a chance he would be ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, then last Sunday he leads the Sharks to a much-needed win.

Graham is likely to run out first as Sharks captain on the Gold Coast, however Fifita will be ready to lead if needed.

"Andrew definitely stands up when he gets that opportunity to lead," the Sharks coach said.

The Sharks will head into the game as favourites, despite the fact they lost both meetings with the Titans last season, going down 16-12 in a thriller in round eight, before being outplayed by the Gold Coast in the return bout in round 19.

Sharks coach Flanagan has trimmed his squad down from the 21-selected on Tuesday, to 19 players who will head to Queensland for the round eight match, with Kurt Capewell and Braden Uele to make the trip.

Trent Hodkinson and Jack Williams come out and are expected to play for the Newtown Jets in the Intrust Super Premiership.

The Sharks v Titans match is scheduled for a 5.30pm kickoff at CBus Super Stadium.

Head-to-head: Played 17; Titans 8 wins, Sharks 8 wins, 1 draw
Matches at venue: Played 7; Titans 4 wins, Sharks 2 wins, 1 draw

Sharks
1 Josh Dugan, 2 Edrick Lee, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Valentine Holmes, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Scott Sorensen, 12 Wade Graham (c), 13 Joseph Paulo. Interchange: 14 Jayson Bukuya, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Avagalu Seumanufagai, 17 Kurt Dillion. Reserves: 18 Kurt Capewell, 20 Braden Uele