It was a gusty effort from the Titans that got them home when they defeated the defending Premiers, the Cronulla Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday night. It was the visitors’ second win of the season, leaving the Sharks with the poor run at home continuing.
No Signs of Cronulla Fortress
The Gold Coast Titans came through and handed Cronulla their third loss of the season, all of which have been on home soil. Their first two games at home against the Broncos and the Dragons were losses, and their only win in front of a home crowd was a one-point victory over the Newcastle Knights prior to their trip to AAMI Park. Saturday night’s display was no different, losing to the Titans by only four points in front of passionate fans. They scored two tries, one of which was a penalty try given to Jayson Bukuya. It was until the last few minutes that the Sharks had held onto the lead, when in the 76th minute Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend lost his marbles and spilt the ball, allowing the Titans to regain possession and score shortly after. It was a devastating loss for the side and for their fans, who have turned up to every home game to a loss (or a fortuitous one-point victory). The Cronulla Sharks need to build momentum and carry it through each game (more so their home games) in order to be a genuine back-to-back threat in the competition that they currently sit in third place in.
Hayne Plane Takes Flight
After being sidelined for five weeks from an ankle injury, Jarryd Hayne returned to fullback for the Titans, and showed no signs of rust from the injury he had sustained. He had a man of the match performance, running over 100 metres in 17 runs. He had a try assist and a perfect tackle success rate. He was communicative from the back of the field, which the rest of the team was appreciative of. “His talk at the back is good for the boys, that’s what they said at half time,” said coach Neil Henry in the post match press conference. “He’s directing a bit of traffic around… he’s an experienced player,” he continues. Although he is not the captain his leadership on the field was crucial in their win against Cronulla. He showed plenty of skill, batting a penalty kick from Maloney back into the field of play winning back possession for his side. His second half was better than his first, due to easing back into the position he was playing in. Coach Henry believes that he will be back to his absolute best with more time on the field, now that he has returned from his injury.
“It’s an Ordinary Loss”
During the post match press conference, Cronulla Sharks’ coach Shane Flanagan and captain Paul Gallen spoke about the disappointing loss, and where it was that the team went wrong. Flanagan began by saying that his side didn’t have enough respect for the ball, turning it over to the Titans too many times early on, allowing their opposition to build pressure on them. Both Gallen and Flanagan showed their respect to the Titans, stating that despite this game being only their second win, they have been competing all year, playing the full eighty minutes of each game. Gallen said that all week the team had recognised this and knew they weren’t going to go away, and that they needed to be the better team. “We’re a better football team than we showed today,” said Flanagan. “…if you don’t do the fundamentals right in rugby league that’s what happens.” He also put it down to game management when questioned about their lead that they gave up with minutes to go. He noted that to get back to winning they need to change their attitude as opposed to changing any game structure that they have put into place.
The Titans Didn’t Go Away
They stayed and they played for the full 80 minutes, and got themselves the win that they were looking for. They took every opportunity presented to them, and build pressure on the Sharks early. Their fast start was impressive to their coach, and said that’s what his side has been missing this season, and a factor into their poor start to the season (as far as winning is concerned). They completed their sets well and put on a really strong defensive effort. The team earned a few players back for the match, including Jarryd Hayne, and all of these players boosted the morale and confidence of the team, allowing them to capitalise and eventually grab hold of the two competition points they were looking for. It was a stellar effort from the side who has been competing all season, and the win will mean a lot to them as they look towards a strong season from this point onwards. They have fallen just short of wins in recent weeks, and despite this, they continue to show up week in week out. They showed the Sharks that they were the better team and deservingly walked away from the Shire as winners.
Tries: Jayson Bukuya, Ricky Leutele
Goals: James Maloney 2
Gold Coast Titans
Tries: Tyrone Roberts, Leivaha Pulu 2
Goals: Ashley Taylor 2