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Titans hold off fast-finishing Sharks to claim tense win

The Gold Coast Titans have withstood a furious Cronulla Sharks rally to hold on for a tense 20-16 victory in Coffs Harbour. 

Des Hasler's side led 20-6 midway through the second half before the Sharks came roaring back to pull within four with four minutes to play. 

Cronulla had one last opportunity to level the scores in the final minute, however the Titans held firm to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this year. 

The victory came on the back of a 66-6 win over the Warriors a fortnight ago and was the latest positive step in the team's build under Hasler. 

For the Sharks, Friday's loss continues a concerning trend. Craig Fitzgibbon's side has now lost three in a row and five of their last six matches. They will drop to fourth on the ladder if the Roosters defeat the Dragons on Sunday.

Chris Randall burst through the Sharks defensive line to score in the first half.
Chris Randall burst through the Sharks defensive line to score in the first half. ©NRL Photos

The Titans enjoyed a dream start to the match, a penalty in the opening set of six providing a perfect attacking opportunity. 

The visitors spent the opening six minutes camped on the Sharks line, with Kieran Foran eventually stepping his way through the defensive line to make it 6-0.

Kieran Foran Try

Cronulla's efforts to hit back were hampered when Sifa Talakai was sent to the sin bin and it didn't take long for the Titans to capitalise. This time it was Chris Randall latching on to a perfect Foran short ball to crash over.

Chris Randall Try

The match evened out as the first half progressed, with the Sharks generating multiple opportunities of their own. 

Cronulla managed to get over the try line three times in the opening 40 minutes, however two dropped balls and a forward pass prevented them from turning it into points. 

The Titans extended their lead soon after the break through a Tanah Boyd penalty goal however an error in the ensuing set put the Sharks back on the attack. 

This time they were able to find the tryline, Briton Nikora producing a perfect offload for Braydon Trindall to make it 14-4. 

Gold Coast took the lead back out to 16 thanks to a Keenan Palasia try however Cronulla refused to go away and they set up a thrilling final 20 minutes when Daniel Atkinson scored to reduce the margin to 10. 

The Sharks looked destined to further cut the deficit on multiple occasions, only to be denied by desperate Titans defence. 

Fatigue, however, was clearly starting to set in and Ronaldo Mulitalo took advantage of a broken kick chase to put Jesse Ramien through a hole. 

The centre was dragged down but a quick play the ball allowed Nicho Hynes to stroll over before he converted the try to make it 20-16 with four minutes remaining.

Nicholas Hynes Try

Cronulla had one last chance to complete a remarkable comeback, however the Gold Coast defence was up to the task to secure their first win over a top-four team this season. 

Match Snapshot

  • Friday night's win snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Titans against the Sharks.
  • Sifa Talakai was placed on report and sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Sam Verrills in the 10th minute. 
  • Gold Coast's Alofiana Khan-Pereira was placed on report for an attempted trip in the second half.
  • A sold-out crowd turned out at C.ex Coffs International Stadium on the NSW north coast to watch clash. It was Cronulla's first loss in their fourth match in Coffs Harbour.
  • The Titans forced six line drop outs to zero in the win. 

Play of the Game

The Titans produced multiple desperate defensive plays throughout the final 10 minutes however none were more important than a stunning Jojo Fifita try-saving tackle. Winger Ronaldo Mulitalo looked certain to score when he stepped inside his opposite man before Fifita stuck his arm out and made enough contact to stop Mulitalo in his tracks and deny a near-certain try.

Fifita stops Mulitalo in his tracks

What They Said

"It feels like exactly the same as last week. [The slow starts have] happened throughout the course of the year quite a bit. We've been addressing it but at the end of the day sometimes it's fundamental errors, sometimes it's discipline. Needless to say it keeps happening so it's a bit of a trend we've got to address otherwise we're giving up too much and [traying to] chase it down." - Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.

Sharks: Round 18

"The players led it this week. They really thought it was important off the back of our last game that we come away with a win today, particularly against Cronulla, they're a good footy side the Sharks and we had to play well. We started really well, our first half put us [on the front foot]. I'm very pleased for the boys to come away with the win." - Titans coach Des Hasler.

Titans: Round 18

What's Next

The Sharks return to the Shire to face the Wests Tigers at PointsBet Stadium on Friday night while the Titans will host the Eels on Saturday evening. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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