Two straight wins have silenced a few of the critics and lessened the outside noise, with the Sharks heading to the Gold Coast looking to back up their two most recent performances as they bid for a third consecutive win.
A victory over the Bulldogs, followed by an even more impressive effort in beating the Sea Eagles has steadied the Sharks ship after a slow start to their 2020 season, with this weekend’s round eight clash against the Titans providing them an opportunity to move even closer to the NRL’s top eight.
While there was plenty to like about the win on the Central Coast, the common theme amongst the players at the weekly media call was to not bask in the glory of the Manly win but to produce bigger and better in the weeks ahead, beginning with the Gold Coast game on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re still not where we want to be, we’re still a work in progress but at least we’ve got a platform now to build off,” Matt Moylan said.
“Hopefully we keep trending in an upward direction, get ourselves closer to the eight and be more consistent across the 80 minutes week to week.”
Prop Braden Hamlin-Uele, in the Sharks starting side for the second consecutive week in the Manly match, echoed Moylan’s comments.
“We’ve got to keep building on what we did well last week and improve where we know we can improve,” Hamlin-Uele said.
“Hopefully last week was the first step towards stringing a few wins together.”
Against the Sea Eagles the Sharks began fast and had the match won three-quarters of the way through the contest.
Moylan expressed they will be looking for more of the same in the Titans match, while also hoping to be better defensively for the entire 80 minutes and to close out the game in a more convincing fashion.
“It was a good start to know we can score those points but obviously we’ve got a ways to go defensively. It probably wasn’t the way we wanted to finish the game, letting those tries in at the end, but for about 60 minutes we were pretty good,” Moylan said.
In team news, the Sharks are likely to send the same team out onto the field for the third week in succession, something that has been a rarity over the past couple of seasons.
Moylan has enjoyed two outings for two wins since missing the Dragons match in round five and is playing himself back into form and also full fitness, with newcomer Bryson Goodwin adding plenty of ability and experience and wing partner Sione Katoa in rare try scoring form on the opposite flank.
With Nene MacDonald approaching game fitness and Ronaldo Mulitalo ready to return following minor knee surgery, Sharks coach John Morris could have an embarrassment of backline options in the weeks ahead.
“It’s a good problem, a good headache for Bomber (Morris) to have. I’m happy to leave them to him,” Moylan added.
In the head to head statistics, the Sharks will be looking for a fourth straight win over the Titans however if past results are anything to go by and if their opponents can reproduce the form which saw them beat the Broncos, there is likely to be little between the teams in the final washup.
Three of the past four matches between the Sharks at Titans at Cbus Stadium have been decided by one point and nine of the past 11 by eight points or under.
These teams have won three matches each at the Robina venue, along with a draw in 2016.
The Titans first ever Premiership win was against the Sharks in Round 2, 2007 in a match played at Carrara Stadium and ironically the match-winning try was scored by a former Shark in Preston Campbell.
In relation to the players on show, Katoa will be looking to add to his eight tries scored this season, a tally which has him second on the NRL try scorers list, while Shaun Johnson has 10 try assists on the year which sees him lead that statistical category.
The Sharks five eighth has also crossed the stripe 11 times in 16 matches against the Titans, his highest try haul against any NRL opponent.
The Titans last start 30-12 win against Brisbane was only the second time this season they have scored more than 12 points and they will be aiming for two straight victories for the first time since rounds five and six in 2019.
The Manly win was the Sharks first double figure victory margin over the Sea Eagles away from home and the first time since 2005 the Cronulla side have defeated their traditional rivals by 18 points or more.
The match is scheduled for a 3.00pm kick off at Cbus Stadium on Saturday, with the teams listed below.
For the Sharks, Will Kennedy and MacDonald come out of the originally selected 21-man squad.
Fullback for Titans is number 21 Tyrone RobertsFullback for Sharks is number 1 Matt Moylan
Winger for Titans is number 1 Corey ThompsonWinger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
Centre for Titans is number 4 Tyrone PeacheyCentre for Sharks is number 3 Josh Dugan
Centre for Titans is number 16 Bryce CartwrightCentre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
Winger for Titans is number 2 Anthony DonWinger for Sharks is number 5 Bryson Goodwin
Five-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Ashley TaylorFive-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Shaun Johnson
Halfback for Titans is number 7 Jamal FogartyHalfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend
Prop for Titans is number 8 Moeaki FotuaikaProp for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
Hooker for Titans is number 9 Mitch ReinHooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
Prop for Titans is number 10 Jaimin JolliffeProp for Sharks is number 15 Braden Hamlin-Uele
2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Keegan Hipgrave2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
2nd Row for Titans is number 19 Beau Fermor2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham
Lock for Titans is number 13 Jai ArrowLock for Sharks is number 13 Jack Williams
Interchange for Titans is number 14 Tanah BoydInterchange for Sharks is number 8 Andrew Fifita
Interchange for Titans is number 15 Sam LisoneInterchange for Sharks is number 14 Toby Rudolf
Interchange for Titans is number 17 Jarrod WallaceInterchange for Sharks is number 16 Siosifa Talakai
Interchange for Titans is number 18 Erin ClarkInterchange for Sharks is number 17 Royce Hunt