close
close

NRL 2024, Round 18, Cronulla Sharks vs Gold Coast Titans, Match Report, Highlights

The Gold Coast Titans withstood a furious comeback from the Cronulla Sharks to secure a narrow 20-16 victory in Coffs Harbour.

Des Hasler's team led 20-6 midway through the second half before the Sharks came back with a bang, closing the gap to four points with four minutes left.

Cronulla had one last chance to equalise in the final minute, but the Titans held on to secure two wins in a row for the first time this year.

The win came on the heels of a 66-6 win over the Warriors two weeks ago and was the latest positive step in the team's buildup under Hasler.

For the Sharks, Friday's loss continues a worrying trend. Craig Fitzgibbon's side have now lost three games in a row and five of their last six. If the Roosters beat the Dragons on Sunday, they will drop to fourth on the ladder.



Chris Randall broke through the Sharks' defense and scored a goal in the first half.
©NRL Photos


The Titans had a dream start to the game, a penalty in the first set of six sets gave them a perfect opportunity to attack.

The visitors spent the first six minutes besieging the Sharks' backline until Kieran Foran finally broke through the backline and made it 6-0.



Kieran Foran Attempt

Cronulla's efforts to fight back were hampered when Sifa Talakai was sent to the penalty box and it didn't take long for the Titans to capitalise, this time it was Chris Randall who collected a perfect short ball from Foran and bounced over.



Chris Randall Try

As the first half progressed, the game became more balanced and the Sharks created numerous chances of their own.

Cronulla made it over the goal line three times in the first 40 minutes, but two dropped balls and a forward pass prevented them from converting them into points.

The Titans extended their lead shortly after halftime with a penalty goal from Tanah Boyd, but an error in the following set forced the Sharks to attack again.

This time they managed to find the goal line and Briton Nikora delivered a perfect throw to Braydon Trindall to make it 14-4.

Gold Coast extended their lead to 16 thanks to a try from Keenan Palasia, but Cronulla persisted and provided an exciting final 20 minutes in which Daniel Atkinson scored to reduce the gap to 10.

It looked as if the Sharks were able to reduce the deficit even further several times, but the Titans' desperate defense thwarted this.

However, the tiredness was clearly noticeable and Ronaldo Mulitalo took advantage of the pursuit of a broken kick to force Jesse Ramien into a gap.

The centre was pulled down, but a quick play with the ball allowed Nicho Hynes to come over before converting the try to make it 20-16 with four minutes left.



Nicholas Hynes Attempt

Cronulla had one final chance to complete a remarkable comeback, but Gold Coast's defence was up to the task and secured their first win against a top four team this season.

Game Snapshot

  • Friday night's win ended a nine-game losing streak for the Titans against the Sharks.
  • Sifa Talakai was reported for a high tackle on Sam Verrills in the 10th minute and sent to the penalty box.
  • Gold Coast's Alofiana Khan-Pereira was reported for an attempted foul in the second half.
  • A sold-out crowd gathered at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium on the New South Wales north coast to watch the game. For Cronulla, it was the first loss in four games in Coffs Harbour.
  • The Titans forced six line dropouts and zero in their win.

Gameplay

The Titans produced several desperate defensive moves in the final 10 minutes, but none was more important than a stunning try-saving tackle from Jojo Fifita. Winger Ronaldo Mulitalo looked certain to score when he pushed his marker into the middle, but Fifita reached out with his arm and hit Mulitalo long enough to stop him, denying what was almost a certain try.



Fifita stops Mulitalo

What they said

“It feels the same as last week. [The slow starts have] has happened quite a lot over the course of the year. We have dealt with it, but at the end of the day, sometimes it is basic mistakes, sometimes discipline. Needless to say, it keeps happening, so it is a bit of a trend that we need to address, otherwise we give up too much and [traying to] chase it.” – Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.



Sharks: Round 18

“The players took the lead this week. They really thought it was important that we win today after our last game, especially against Cronulla. The Sharks are a good football team and we had to play well. We started really well, our first half gave us [on the front foot]. I'm very happy for the boys that they won.” – Titans coach Des Hasler.



Titans: Round 18

What's next

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