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Strong second half propels Sharks to Titans victory

The Sharks have continued their surge towards a top eight berth with a convincing 40-10 victory over the Gold Coast Titans at CBus Stadium. 

A scrappy first 40 minutes was followed by a scorching second half, despite being without Matt Moylan who left the field injured in the opening period, the Sharks were far too good, running in seven tries in the win. 

It was a victory built on a dominant display from the forwards, while Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend controlled proceedings off the back of the work of their big men, the pair continuing to improve with this the third straight win for the Cronulla side. 

The match began with the Sharks dodging a bullet early when the Titans were denied a try by the video referee and after Aaron Woods narrowly missed winning the race to a Blakey Brailey grubber kick, the Cronulla side would post first points soon after, Braden Hamlin-Uele crashing over off a well-timed Matt Moylan pass. 

Johnson was successful with his first kick of the afternoon and it was 6-0 Sharks 11 minutes into the contest. 

Following a couple of missed opportunities after Brailey had put his team deep on the attack with a 40-20, against the run of play the Titans would level, Corey Thompson pouncing on a loose pass and racing away 90-metres to score. 

Another lost scoring chance when Jack Williams was unable to reel in a Moylan pass with the line open let the Gold Coast off the hook yet again but it didn't take long for the Sharks to retake the lead, Andrew Fifita reaching out to touch down after collecting an inside pass from Wade Graham.

Johnson again converted to take the Sharks out to a 12-6 advantage. 

The Sharks looked like taking the six point lead to the break, until a defensive lapse on the right saw the Titans score on the left, winger Anthony Don on the end of an overlap before getting the ball down wide out. 

Ash Taylor couldn't add the extras, with Cronulla going to the sheds up 12-10 at half time. 

While the Sharks only just had their noses in front after the first half they lifted their intensity early in the second, the tide well and truly turning in their favour, an early Titans error gifting them field position and leading to a try that would push the lead out to eight points. 

As has been the case in recent weeks it was again Johnson igniting the Sharks attack, the five eighth finding Briton Nikora who ran a brilliant inside line to go over untouched. 

Johnson’s kick made it 18-10 however the Kiwi international wasn't finished yet, poking through the line then off-loading for a Brailey try soon after and with the conversion the Sharks were well on their way at 24-10 with 30 minutes of the match remaining. 

A Townsend try with a clever show and go pushed the margin out to 30-10, then it was Royce Hunt, in only his fourth NRL game and third for the Sharks bumping through tackles to score his first four-pointer in the top grade. 

Johnson converted both Sharks tries and an impressive second half performance the visitors were 36-10 with under 10 minutes left on the clock. 

A try to Bryson Goodwin, scored off a floating Townsend pass just four-minutes from time made it 40 and while Johnson was off-target with his kick from a wide angle, it put the finishing touches on an outstanding win for the Sharks who now move into the top eight pending further result from the final round eight matches yet to be played. 

The only negative on the afternoon was the injury suffered by Moylan, the fullback forced off in the first half and failing to return to the field with what appeared to be a re-occurance of a hamstring injury. 

Moylan's status will be assessed on his return to Sydney however Morris has some able replacements, with Dugan solid in 55-odd minutes at the back and Will Kennedy waiting in the wings should he get the call up should the injury see Moylan miss some matches. 

For the Sharks Fifita was at his bruising best, Hamlin-Uele and Woods laid the platform early and Johnson again silenced any remaining critics with another standout performance. 

The Sharks will be in action next Saturday and again at 3.00pm in a return home to Kogarah Jubilee when they host the Panthers in a round nine clash. 

Blayke Brailey, Royce Hunt, Bryson Goodwin, Chad Townsend, Briton Nikora, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Andrew Fifita tries, Shaun Johnson 6 goals
Anthony Don, Corey Thompson tries, Ash Taylor goal.