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The Cronulla Sharks have ended any hope the Gold Coast Titans had of making the semi-finals with a strong 28-12 victory at Toyota Park tonight.
In a match that was at times scrappy, the Sharks over-powered their rivals with former Cronulla player Mat Rogers scoring a try in his first game back at Woolooware since returning from rugby union.
The Sharks opened up a 10-nil lead in the 17th minute after tries to Luke Covell and Greg Bird with the latter scoring off a bustling run from a scrum.
Gold Coast hit back in the 30th with prop Ian Donnelly taking advantage of some flimsy defence around the rucks to score next to the posts. The scores remained at 10-6 until the break with the game very much open for both clubs to win.
The second half saw the Sharks kick-away as Prince began a running battle with the referee Jason Robinson. Kingston scored from dummy half 10 minutes after the break by exploiting some lazy marker defence.
And then the Sharks crushed the Titans hopes with an intercept try in the 60th minute to Simmons off a Prince pass as Gold Coast were in a good attacking position. This was clearly the turning point of the game and as Simmons ran down-field you could see the Titans season going with it.
Rogers scored in the 65th minute thanks to a good break by Walker who ran off Prince. But stiff defence from the Sharks prevented any further leakages of points and even added another one through Stephenson with two minutes left.
With the Titans now out of semi-final calculation, both clubs will now play their final game of the season next week. Cronulla will travel to Canberra for a tough game with coach Stuart returning to his former home whilst the Titans fly to Melbourne for the hardest road trip in professional sport.
Round 24 - Full Time :: August 25th, 2007 05:30 PM Venue: Toyota Park Referee: Jason Robinson
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks (28) Tries: Luke Covell, Greg Bird, Kevin Kingston, David Simmons, Paul Stephenson Goals: Luke Covell (4/5)
Gold Coast Titans (12) Tries: Ian Donnelly, Mat Rogers Goals: Brett Delaney (1/1), Preston Campbell (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Greg Bird 2 Points: Paul Gallen 1 Point: Scott Prince
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary: Welcome to Toyota Park where the Sharks host the Titans. The Gold Coast franchise need to win to keep their finals hopes alive, whilst Cronulla will be out to spoil their party...
Sharks: Eddie Su'a will start with Ben Ross back to the bench. The rest are as per the program.
Titans: as per the program.
1 min: The Titans get us underway in the first half...
5 min: A few errors and penalties early. Luke Bailey appears to have tripped Goodwin also...
8 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Bird kicks across field and finds Covell who snaffles it for the first try over Webster and Delaney. He lines up the conversion from out wide. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4-0
12 min: The Titans press the line but come up blank. They do get the feed though and attack the line...
17 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks From a scrum Bird hits the line hard and crashes over under the posts to score. Big try in the context of the game. Covell has an easier one here. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10-0
26 min: Walker has a groin problem but is running it out. The Sharks are doing well here at the moment.
29 min: Donnelly on report for a grapple tackle. The Titans are imploding at the moment...
30 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Donnelly hits back, scoring next to the posts and exposing some pretty flimsy defence by the Sharks. Delany lines this one up next to the posts. Conversion attempt by Brett Delaney successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10-6
34 min: Sharks drop it in front of their posts...
36 min: Rogers misses a good chance...
40 min: A bit of a scrappy finish to the game with both sides making some errors. This game is there for the taking for both clubs and we should see a more open second half. The Titans are still in with a shot to make the semi's so I expect them to come out firing in the second half.
41 min: The Sharks restart play here at Toyota Park...
47 min: The second half has begun much like the first half ended - plenty of mistakes. Neither side is really finding any rhythm at the moment.
50 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Kingston gets out of dummy half very quickly, shows up the defence and scores under the black dot. Covell has an easy one here. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 16-6
57 min: No try to the Sharks here as Covell can't get to the ball before it goes over the line...
60 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Just as the Titans are on the attack on the Sharks line, Simmons takes an intercept off Prince and runs the length of the field to score. There was a hint of off side though. Covell has another easy one here. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 22-6
65 min: Checking a try to the Titans...
65 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Walker makes a break through the middle thanks to Prince and he finds Rogers out wide who scores. Campbell takes the shot with Delaney off the field. Conversion attempt by Preston Campbell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 22-12
68 min: The Sharks on the attack after getting a penalty deep in Titans territory.
74 min: Some good footy being played here with both sides throwing the ball around. The Sharks defence has been very stout tonight.
78 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks Stephenson charges at the line, brushes off the Titans defence and then scores next to the posts. Covell has another easy one. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 28-12
80 min: Fulltime here at Shark Park with Cronulla closing the game by forcing the Titans into a goal-line drop-out. Great win by Cronulla who must be wondering what might have been with a few more wins.