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The Gold Coast Titans have secured an historic home semi final with a 20-10 victory over the Cronulla Sharks at Skilled Park this afternoon.
Playing in unseasonably warm conditions, the match never reached any great, lofty heights in quality, with both teams experiencing issues in controlling the ball.
The Sharks started the stronger of the two teams, benefitting from an early penalty and handling error as they jumped out to a six-nil lead after just five minutes, captain Paul Gallen following through on Scott Porters grubber for the spoils.
Their early dominance wasn't to last, however, as the home side set about their motions, with five-eight Mat Rogers rewarded for backing up Luke Bailey with a try at the 26th.
The Sharks had their opportunities to regain the lead, however were unable to capitalise before inviting the Titans back downfield through a simple penalty.
Following the penalty it was all too easy for Luke O'Dwyer who, while running back on the angle, simply had to hang onto the ball and fall over the line.
A penalty against Blake Ferguson for incorrectly playing the ball just minutes out from half time provided Scott Prince with a shot at goal to give the Titans an eight point lead heading into the break.
Kade Snowdens simple lost ball following the restart gave the Titans the first chance of the second half and they did cross the line through Jordan Atkins, only to be denied by the video referee on grounds of obstruction.
The Sharks then enjoyed a glut of possession, including four consecutive sets on the Titans line, but were unable to cross for a try.
After surviving those four sets, the Titans immediately made their way back down field and almost scored through Prince, but he took an air swing at the ball and it was grounded by Covell.
After the dropout, the Sharks found themselves down a man when Ian Donnelly was given a spell in the 59th after giving the referees a piece of his mind.
The Titans took immediated advantage of the extra man, the Anthony Laffranchi running the perfect angle off Prince's shoulder, hitting the hole and slamming the ball down over the line.
Three minutes later and Rogers was over for his second, however was denied after the video referee ruled Rogers had promoted the ball, even though replays suggested there was momentum in the tackle.
Ferguson scored a consolation try for the visitors in the 72nd, but it was all too little, too late as the Titans had the victory in the bag, and had already mentally started preparing for the biggest game in their short history, which is only just three weeks away.
Gold Coast Titans 20 def Cronulla Sharks 10
Round 24 - Sunday August 23rd, 2009 02:00pm Venue: Skilled Park, Robina QLD Referee: Steve Lyons & Gerard Sutton
Sideline Officials: Mohamad Fajajo & Phil Haines
Video Referee: Chris Ward Crowd: 14,714 Halftime: Gold Coast Titans 14 Cronulla Sharks 6
Gold Coast Titans 20
Tries: Mat Rogers, Luke O'Dwyer, Anthony Laffranchi
Goals: Scott Prince (4/4)
Cronulla Sharks 10
Tries: Paul Gallen, Blake Ferguson
Goals: Luke Covell (1/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Mat Rogers (Titans) 2 Points: Paul Gallen (Sharks) 1 Point: Anthony Laffranchi (Titans)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Titans v Sharks forum discussion - click here!
Good afternoon and welcome to sunny Skilled Park for todays clash between the Gold Coast Titans and the Cronulla Sharks. The Titans wrapped up a top four position for their first finals series in their win against the Rabbitohs last week. Cronulla, reflecting the rest of the season, found themselves on the wrong side of a 50 point hammering at the hands of the Tigers. Todays result will be purely mathematical, as regardless of which teams emerges victorious, it will have no impact on the makeup of the top eight whatsoever.
Team changes are as such: TITANS: As heavily reported on during the week, fullback William Zillman has been suspended for four weeks for biting. As a result, there have been major reshuffles in the Titans lineup. Preston Campbell moves back to fullback, Mat Rogers goes to five-eight, and Esi Tonga comes into the centres in jersey 22. In the pack, Michael Henderson will start from the bench, with Matt White promoted to the starting lineup, and Luke O'Dwyer rounds out the team. SHARKS: Matt Wright will start from the bench, with Blake Green the starting pivot in jersey 21
TITANS: 6. Preston Campbell 2. Kevin Gordon 22. Esi Tonga 4. Jordan Atkins 5. David Mead 3. Mat Rogers 7. Scott Prince (cc) 8. Luke Bailey (cc) 9. Nathan Friend 14. Matthew White 11. Anthony Laffranchi 12. Mark Minichiello 13. Josh Graham Interchange: 10. Michael Henderson 16. Brad Meyers 17. Sam Tagataese 18. Luke O'Dwyer SHARKS: 1. Nathan Stapleton 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. Mitch Brown 5. Luke Covell (c) 21. Blake Green 7. Scott Porter 8. Kade Snowden 9. Corey Hughes 10. Luke Douglas 11. Grant Millington 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Paul Gallen Interchange: 14. Ian Donnelly 6. Matt Wright 16. Jack Afamasaga 17. Lancen Joudo
The sun is beaming down here on the Gold Coast, with temperatures up around the low to mid 30's, so it will be interesting to see what effect the heat has on the players.
0 min: And we're underway!
1 min: A nervous start for both teams, with the Titans knocking on on just the first tackle, before the Sharks then lose it with the line begging.
3 min: Camped on their own ten metre line on the 4th tackle, Campbell tries to spread the ball out wide but it is knocked on at the feet of Laffranchi, providing the Sharks with an ideal opportunity to post first points.
4 min: PENALTY - Sharks: Tupou runs to the line and is desperatly dragged down by Laffranchi, who strips the ball out just after Campbell arrives to assist.
5 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Porter dribbles a little grubber in through behind the line and Gallen is chasing through to plant down for the ideal start for the visitors. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell successful. Cronulla Sharks 6-0
9 min: A perfectly weighted kick by Porter holds up a metre out from the dead ball line, forcing Campbell to play at it, doing remarkably well to make it out of the in-goal
10 min: PENALTY - Titans: The Titans get their first penalty of the match, and a much needed one as the game has been played all down their end of the field so far.
12 min: Now Campbell holds a kick up in goal for Stapleton to play at, however the Titans chase is non-existant and Stapleton easily makes it out to his ten metre line.
14 min: PENALTY - Titans: Minichiello looks to simply lose the ball in the tackle, but the referees rule it a strip. Titans with a fresh set on the Sharks 20.
15 min: Great scrable defence by the Sharks keeps the Titans out until tackle five, when Prince rolls a kick through that is sheparded dead by Stapleton and Covell.
17 min: Friend and Prince are trying to get something started for the Titans, but are having trouble finding players willing to run the ball.
18 min: PENALTY - Sharks: Mead guilty of slowing the play the ball down, and the Sharks will have an opportunity to further extend their lead.
20 min: Gallen gets the ball second man from Green and charges down the sideline, before losing the ball forward under the tackle.
20 min: Minichiello gets the ball off the scrum on the Titans 20 and finds himself in a bit of space before finally being wrapped up on the halfway line.
22 min: Pomeroy was put into a nice hole by Porter, making a half break before being taken down by Prince. Pomeroy got a quick play the ball, however had no-one at dummy half and the ball was there for the taking by Prince.
25 min: A simple lost ball in the tackle by Stapleton has gifted the Titans a full set of six ten out from the Sharks line.
26 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Titans Try... Rogers has crossed the line, but the ball came loose and has been collected by the Sharks. We're checking to see if Rogers got the ball down at all before losing it.
26 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans On the play following the scrum, Bailey ran to the line then passed to Rogers who crashed over the line for his 100th try in first grade. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. 6 all
30 min: PENALTY - Sharks: A kick to the corner is knocked on by Tonga, then touched by Rogers in an offside position
32 min: The Sharks had a three on two overlap on the left and an ideal opportunity to score, but Porter instead goes for the grubber to the in-goal and the ball goes dead.
34 min: PENALTY - Titans: The Titans get a penalty after a Shark made a second effort in the tackle, and will have an ideal opportunity to strike before the break.
35 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans All too simple for O'Dwyer here who collects the ball back on the angle and hits the hole for the try. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 12-6
38 min: PENALTY - Titans: A penalty against the Sharks in possession after Ferguson fails to play the ball correctly.
39 min: PENALTY GOAL Gold Coast Titans Prince takes the shot at goal at the Titans will go to the break with an eight point lead. Gold Coast Titans 14-6
HALF TIME It's half time here, and despite a red hot start by the Sharks, the Titans class has shone through as they fought back from being down six-nil early on to head to the sheds leading 14 points to 6.
40 min: And we're back underway, with Cronulla to have first use of the ball, and in a carbon copy of the first half the ball has been lost after 30 seconds of play.
41 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Titans Try... Atkins has crossed the line and eventually the ball has hit the ground, just checking to see whether he had full control over it.
41 min: NO TRY - Penalty Sharks Penalty against the Titans for an obstruction play in which Porter was taken out.
42 min: PENALTY - Sharks: Porter puts a kick up to the corner on the last that is taken by Mead, but Atkins is penalised for taking out Ferguson.
44 min: Tonga makes a long run down the left side, before finally being rounded up 20 out from the Sharks line. On the following play Prince kicks for and finds the goal post pads and the ball rebounds back in field into the waiting arms of a Sharks defender.
45 min: Prince kicks through to the in-goal and Covell attacks the ball at speed, showing great hands to hang onto it and get out into the field of play.
50 min: Campbells kick on the last hits a Shark and bounces back to be collected by Gordon who, upon realising it's still the last, tries to chip for himself but instead is collected by the much larger Covell.
51 min: Great show of strength by Rogers who collects the ball in his in-goal and, despite heavy attention by two defenders, manages to get the ball off to Gordon who weaves his way out of the in-goal.
52 min: Atkins grounds the ball in-goal and the Sharks will get the repeat set, however we have time off for now as Esi Tonga looks to be in a bit of distress in back play.
53 min: Porter kicks through on the third and Bailey knocks the ball on. Another repeat set coming up for the Sharks.
55 min: Green kicks cross field to Covells wing but the ball is knocked dead by Gordon. The Sharks will get a fourth straight set in attack.
56 min: The Titans survive four consecutive sets on their own line as Pomeroy knocks the ball on in the tackle.
58 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Titans Try... A possible miracle try here, but only if Prince has some form of downward pressure on the ball.
58 min: NO TRY - Goal line dropout Stapleton tried to shephard the ball over the line, but Gordon comes through at the last second and knocks the ball back through Stapletons legs where Prince was following but had an air-swing at the ball, which Covell eventually grounds.
59 min: SIN BIN: Donnelly is sent for ten after having a bit to say to the referees.
59 min: TRY Gold Coast Titans Following the tap restart after the penalty, Friend finds Prince, who then finds Laffranchi who hits the hole and slams the ball down for the try. Conversion attempt by Scott Prince successful. Gold Coast Titans 20-6
62 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Titans Try... Rogers is claiming a double, just checking for the grounding and a high shot from Paul Gallen.
62 min: NO TRY - Penalty Sharks Rogers is penalised for a double movement, even though footage suggests Gallen provided most of the momentum in the tackle.
64 min: Stapleton has lost the ball in a fairly innoccuous tackle, and the Titans will have the ball on the Sharks 20.
65 min: Now Friend has simply lost the ball, and the 12-man Sharks hold on for now.
67 min: Big Tagataese has raced away for a try under the posts, but is pulled back for a forward pass from Prince.
69 min: A great shot from Brown collects Atkins right in the bread basket and forces the ball lose.
70 min: Cronulla tried a passage of quick hands, but it all comes undone as the ball flies over the sideline.
72 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Great wingers try by Ferguson who collects the ball and beats three players along the sideline to score in the corner. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Gold Coast Titans 20-10
76 min: Porter has taken the optional kick restart and found touch on the Titans 40, but is informed by the refs that because he tapped it before he kicked it, it's actually a Titans feed.
77 min: The Sharks try a backline play off the scrum and Covell finds himself in some space down the sideline, but the leagues slowest winger is easily run down by Tagataese.
FULL TIME It's full time here, and the Gold Coast Titans have secured a home semi final by defeating the Cronulla Sharks 20 points to 10.