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THE Cronulla Sharks have capped off the most tumultuous week in the clubs history with an emotion-charged 12-10 victory in front of 17,541 fans at Sharks Stadium.
Skipper Paul Gallen lead his side out to a raucous applause as he sported elastoplast around his bicep with the names of coach Shane Flanagan as well as the five officials who were sacked during the week.
Defence was the order of the first half with both sides proving difficult to break through but it was the Titans who had the first opportunity at posting points in the 5th minute however the pass from halfback Albert Kelly to fullback William Zillman was ruled forward.
Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney’s kicking game was superb throughout the first half and he was successful with a 40/20 attempt in the 18th minute. Unfortunately for the home side the Titans defence again held firm and turned them away.
Beau Ryan was involved in an altercation with Titans five-eighth Aiden Sezer in the 27th minute and from the ensuing penalty the Sharks worked the ball downfield and opened their account for 2013. Centre Matthew Wright climbed high above the Gold Coast defence and defused a Carney cross-field bomb before planting the ball out wide for the first try. Former Panther Michael Gordon added the extras from out wide as both sides continued to defend their line well. The Sharks took the 6-point lead to the break as their faithful fans again rose as one to applaud them off the field.
The Titans drew level not long after the break through winger David Mead in a carbon-copy of the Sharks first try as he out jumped opposite winger Jonathon Wright before touching down in the corner.
Front-row forward Andrew Fifita put the hosts noses back in front in the 55th minute when he took advantage of some clever play out of dummy half by John Morris after a quick play-the-ball from Wade Graham had the Titans backpedalling on their own line.
The Sharks looked to extend their lead through Wright in the 63rd minute, but Mead did enough to bundle the winger into touch before he forced the ball in the corner.
Former Rabbitoh Dave Taylor set up a grandstand finish when he picked up the crumbs again courtesy of an Aiden Sezer cross-field bomb. Wingers Mead and Wright again contested for possession with Mead knocking the ball back into the path of the second-rower who dived over out wide. Unfortunately for the Titans Sezer couldn’t add the extras from out wide and the Sharks held on for an emotional two points.
Speaking with Fox Sports after the game, Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said “emotion played a large role (in the victory) but it means little after 30 seconds.”
Next week the Titans host the Raiders on Sunday while the Sharks travel to ANZ Stadium for a clash with the Rabbitohs on Monday night.