It was a fitting farewell for Sharks Captain Paul Gallen, who with his final touch of the football at Suncorp Stadium scored the try to seal a gutsy Sharks win in the first game of the NRL’s Magic Round.
The Gallen four-pointer, followed by his one and only goal as a Shark after the full time siren, coming at a ground where he has tasted very little success in the past, saw a resilient Cronulla side come away with a gutsy 26-18 victory.
Again down on troops with injuries affecting the team during the game, compounding the fact they had a number of high profile players already unavailable, and it was a memorable win against the odds.
After the Titans were denied a try for an obstruction in the eighth minute of the game, it would be the Sharks to score first and it came following a heads up play from Kurt Capewell when the talented back rower threw a well-timed pass for Josh Morris to score wide out.
It was Capewell who had made a one-on-one steal just moments before in providing the field position in what was a strong few minutes.
Kyle Flanagan couldn't convert form the eastern touchline but it was 4-0 Sharks after the opening 12 minutes of the match.
The Titans would equalise when a sloppy pass from halfback Ashley Taylor bounced before going to hand, resulting in Dale Copley scoring in the north-western corner.
Former Shark Michael Gordon was on target with the kick and it was 6-4 to the Titans.
Despite again facing adversity, with Fifita gone for the game just seven minutes and Matt Prior unable to return with neck and shoulder issues at around the 20 minute mark, a darting run from Jayden Brailey put the Sharks on the front foot, then it was Morris again, this time on the end of a Chad Townsend grubber which put the Cronulla side back in the lead.
Flanagan added the extra two and it was 10-6 Sharks.
Unfortunately, from the ensuing set of six the Titans would strike back and it was after a Sharks off-load went astray, AJ Brimson picking up the scraps and beating the cover defence on a 50-metre dash to score adjacent to the uprights.
Gordon put his team back in front with the easy conversion and the Titans where ahead with 13 minutes of the first half remaining.
Then with half time approaching a Titans penalty put them on the attack and a Taylor kick for Tyrone Peachey made it 16-10, the Gordon conversion putting the Gold Coast up by eight at the break.
While the Titans came out for the second stanza with plenty of energy, the Sharks matched them and after working their way into an attacking field position following a long Bronson Xerri run, a handful of tackles later the end result was Aaron Gray touching down in the right hand corner.
Again attempting the goal from a wide angle Flanagan wasn't able to add to the Sharks total and it was the Gold Coast up 18-14.
Gaining in confidence the Sharks again moved into Titans territory and again they were rewarded, Townsend throwing a well-timed cut out for Gray to score his second, almost in an identical position to where he crossed for his first.
Flanagan’s kick was off line once more and it was game on at 18-all with 20 minutes of the contest remaining.
Soon after the Sharks looked to have taken the lead when Xerri sliced through, only to be called back for an obstruction, with both sides defending desperately until the Cronulla side had the chance to break the deadlock when Flanagan was held down in the tackle and awarded a penalty.
Cool and calm under pressure the Sharks half kicked the goal from 10-metres in from the sideline and it was 20-18 with five to go.
Led by their number seven Townsend, showing outstanding composure the Sharks controlled the final minutes, the skipper capping off the memorable win with his try and goal on the full-time siren.
Townsend was a worthy choice as Channel 9 man-of-the-match however he had a number of willing helpers.
At th post-match presser coach John Morris was quick to praise the efforts of bench forwards Braden Hamlin-Uele, Jack Williams and Jayson Bukuya for their input, while centre Morris was outstanding on the Sharks left.
And for Gallen, in his final game at a venue which has been an unhappy hunting ground during his illustrious career, with 200 metres gained, a try and a goal, it was a nice way to go out.
The Sharks now have a long turn around until their next match, which is a home game against the Manly Sea Eagles at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday.
Aaron Gray 2, Josh Morris 2, Paul Gallen tries, Kyle Flanagan 2, Gallen goals
Dale Copley, AJ Brimson, Tyrone Peachey tries, Ashley Taylor 3 goals.