In a game which produced high drama, with Titans captain Kevin Proctor sent from the field for an alleged biting incident 24 minutes from full time, the Sharks have beaten the Gold Coast 30-18 in their round 14 clash at Kogarah’s Jubilee Stadium.
With the scores level at 12-all at the time, the send off turned the tide in the Sharks favour, three tries against a 12-man opposition in the next eight minutes sealing what was an important win in the context of Cronulla's season.
It was far from pretty from the Sharks, however again they showed their attacking capabilities in scoring five tries to three in their eighth win of the 2020 season.
On the back of some concerted pressure the Titans were first to score, Ash Taylor throwing a cut out pass for Corey Thompson to cross wide out and the visitors led just five minutes into the contest.
Taylor backed up his try assist with a sideline conversion and it was 6-0 to the Gold Coast.
It took the Sharks until the 19th minute for them to open their account, Josh Dugan on the end of a backline movement which started with a Scott Sorensen off-load, the centre touching down in the south-eastern corner. The Johnson conversion made it six-all however the Cronulla five eighth wasn't finished there.
Two sets later after working their way into an attacking position it was Johnson again, dummying and spliting the Titans defensive line before passing for Siosifa Talakai to score wide out.
Johnson was again on target with his kick and the Sharks had a 12-6 lead with 15 minutes of the first half remaining.
They looked like going further ahead only for an attempted acrobatic Sione Katoa put down to be ruled touch in goal and despite the Sharks having more opportunities in the opening period the teams would go to half time locked up, the Titans levelling when prop Jarrod Wallace crashed over adjacent to the posts as the siren was sounding.
The second half turned into an arm wrestle, with neither side able to take the chances on offer, however the game turned on its head when Titans skipper Proctor was sent from the field in the 56th minute for allegedly biting his Kiwi teammate Johnson in a tackle.
After a penalty for the incident the Sharks moved into an attacking position and again it was Johnson in the thick of it, this time kicking for Katoa with the NRL’s leading try scorer adding to his tally with a spectacular catch for his 13th four-pointer of the season.
Johnson added the extra two with his kick from a wide angle and the Sharks were up by six at 18-12.
Now with their tails up and attacking against a 12-man Titans outfit the Sharks would add to their lead soon after, Blakye Brailey jumping out of dummy half and sending captain Wade Graham over to extend their lead.
Standing in for Johnson, it was Matt Moylan converting and with just under 20 minutes remaining the Sharks led 24-12.
Now with their foot firmly on the throat of their opponents the Sharks went in for the kill, Jack Williams with an individual effort, charging down a Titans kick, regathering the ball then running 35 metres to score, putting the result beyond doubt.
With Johnson off the field with a groin issue Moylan again accepted the kicking duties and again he was successful, making the score 30-12 with his conversion from wide out.
The game deteriorated somewhat from there, with Titans throwing caution to the wind, a try in the closing moments to Keenan Hipgrave narrowing the final margin.
It was far from a perfect performance from the Sharks but at this time of the year all wins and the competition points that go with them are crucial, with the victory cementing their place in the top eight.
Before being replaced late Johnson was leading the way for the Sharks side, Talakai again showed his worth with some barnstorming charges and Moylan had a number of good touches in his second game back from injury.
In the forwards Braden Hamlin-Uele and Aaron Woods led the go-forward, Williams produced a big play late in the match and ran strongly throughout, with Brailey sharp out of dummy half.
On an injury front Johnson and Dugan failed to finish the match, however the initial diagnosis indicated the pair should both be right to tackle the Panthers in the Sharks next assignment on Friday night.
6 mins - Thompson try, Taylor goal - Titans 6-0
19 mins - Dugan try, Johnson goal - 6-all
24 mins - Talakai try, Johnson goal - Sharks 12-6
39 mins - Wallace try, Taylor goal - 12-all
57 mins - Katoa try, Johnson goal - Sharks 18-12
60 mins - Graham try, Moylan goal - Sharks 24-12
63 mins - Williams try, Moylan goal - Sharks 30-12
75 mins - Hipgrove try, Taylor goal - Sharks 30-18
Josh Dugan, Siosifa Talakai, Sione Katoa, Jack WIlliams, Wade Graham tries, Shaun Johnson 3, Matt Moylan 2 goals
Corey Thompson, Jarrod Wallace, Keenan Hipgrave tries, Ash Taylor 3 goals
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