The Sharks are expecting a vastly different Gold Coast side to the team they beat convincingly back in round eight when they meet the Titans at Kogarah’s Jubilee Oval tomorrow afternoon.
With the Gold Coast missing a couple of key players and struggling to find their best form, the Sharks ran rampant in a 40-10 triumph earlier this year, however Sharks coach John Morris expects a vastly different challenge this time around.
“They’ve had a really good transition of youth into their NRL side, AJ Brimson, (Moeaki) Fotuaika, Brian Kelly, Phillip Sami, all these guys came through a couple of years ago playing Holden Cup together,” Morris said. “Then they’re in good shape with experienced guys like Kevin Proctor and Jai Arrow playing real good footy and they have some powerful outside backs.
“We know what’s coming, they’re a quality side, it’s going to be a big game.”
While the Sharks come into the game on the back of a last start loss, in a match played in atrocious conditions last Sunday afternoon, Morris was of the belief that despite coming up just short against the Eels his team still took something away from that clash.
“Both sides played well, unfortunately for us we scored more tries and still lost the game, but we take a lot of positives out of that game,” Morris said.
“It was really good to stand up to a quality top four side like Parramatta and we didn’t take away the two points but we take away a lot of confidence in the way we played.
“It’s important we start again and go again against a Titans team that has really improved over the last month or so,” he added.
Somewhat in the Sharks favour will be the fact that they are set to run out the same 17 which competed hard in the Eels loss, Matt Moylan to again take on the five eighth role with Chad Townsend still sidelined with a calf injury.
In the forwards the hard-running Siosifa Talakai has retained his place in the run-on side after another solid performance last weekend, with Morris to determine the make-up of his interchange bench closer to kick off tomorrow.
And in a further boost the Sharks this week were able to secure the services of two of their young guns for 2021 and beyond, with Ronaldo Mulitalo and Will Kennedy both signing new deals during the week.
In the 21 matches played between the two clubs the Sharks have recorded 12 wins to eight from the Titans, with one draw.
The Sharks have only lost two of the past nine against the Gold Coast side, both of those losses coming in 2017 and have won the past four.
The two teams met back in round 8 at Cbus Super Stadium, with the 30-point margin representing the Sharks biggest ever win over the Gold Coast club.
While Saturday will be the first time the Sharks have played the Titans away from PointsBet Stadium as the home team, they have won seven of the 11 matches played in Sydney against the Gold Coast.
The loss last week at Kogarah continues an ordinary record for Cronulla at the venue, with just 13 wins from 40 matches and three victories from 13 games since the 2000 season.
In other statistical categories, the Sharks have scored the most tries in the NRL in 2020, while the Titans are averaging the equal second fewest.
The Titans broke a four-game losing streak to get their fourth victory of the season last week, beating the Cowboys 30-10, in equalling their win tally from last season.
Outside of Queensland, the Titans are on an eight-match losing streak, with their last win coming in a round 11 match against Manly at Brookvale last year.
While the Sharks have celebrated a number of milestones in recent weeks, this week is the turn of Kevin Proctor, the former Storm, now Titans backrower who made his debut for Melbourne back in 2008 is set to play his 250th NRL match.
Sione Katoa remains the equal leading try scorer in the NRL, despite not getting across the stripe last week, his 12 four-pointers leaving him level with Panther Stephen Crichton.
Katoa has scored two tries in his only two matches against the Titans, while teammate Shaun Johnson who is leading the NRL’s in try assists (18), four clear of his nearest rival in Luke Keary (14), has scored 11 tries in 17 matches against the Gold Coast, representing his best haul against any team.
Two former Sharks will also run out for the Titans, Tyrone Peachey who made his debut for Cronulla in Round 10, 2013 and played seven NRL matches for the club, and prop Jaimin Joliffe who spent time in the Sharks junior system, playing 25 matches for the Cronulla Holden Cup team in 2015-16, and 67 matches for the Sharks feeder club Newtown between 2016 and 2019.
The Sharks and Titans match kicks off at 3.00pm at Kogarah’s Jubilee Oval tomorrow, with the two 19-man squads listed below.
Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William KennedyFullback for Titans is number 1 Alexander Brimson
Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione KatoaWinger for Titans is number 18 Corey Thompson
Centre for Sharks is number 3 Josh DuganCentre for Titans is number 3 Brian Kelly
Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse RamienCentre for Titans is number 4 Dale Copley
Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo MulitaloWinger for Titans is number 20 Young Tonumaipea
Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Matt MoylanFive-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Ashley Taylor
Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Shaun JohnsonHalfback for Titans is number 7 Jamal Fogarty
Prop for Sharks is number 8 Braden Hamlin-UeleProp for Titans is number 8 Moeaki Fotuaika
Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke BraileyHooker for Titans is number 9 Nathan Peats
Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron WoodsProp for Titans is number 10 Jaimin Jolliffe
2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Siosifa Talakai2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Keegan Hipgrave
Lock for Sharks is number 15 Scott SorensenLock for Titans is number 13 Jai Arrow
Interchange for Sharks is number 13 Toby RudolfInterchange for Titans is number 15 Tyrone Peachey
Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Connor TraceyInterchange for Titans is number 16 Jarrod Wallace
Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Jack WilliamsInterchange for Titans is number 17 Sam Lisone
Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Royce HuntInterchange for Titans is number 21 Beau Fermor