Cronulla v Gold Coast preview

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Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Gold Coast Titans Sunday 2:00pm at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour / Gumbaynggirr

Inconsistent sides look to continue winning ways at Coffs Harbour

The Sharks and Titans each started the season showing a lot of promise, although their recent performances have been marred by lacklustre defence that sees the Sharks sitting in 13th and the Titans only in the top 8 on for and against, with teams like the Warriors and Cowboys hot on their heels. 

Last week, each enjoyed wins but in rather unconvincing displays. The Sharks only just snuck home against a Dragons side missing a host of regular starters, while the Titans conceded 20 points against the Bulldogs, the most any team has let in against the likely wooden-spooners. 

While the Titans have struggled to score points against on occasion against quality opposition this year, their attack against teams who aren't as defensively well drilled remains extremely innovative and entertaining to watch. Their average winning score is 36, and they have scored 30 and 28 points in losses to the Rabbitohs and Broncos respectively. 

It leaves little doubt to the fact that their problems lie largely on the other side of the ball. 

The Sharks, on the other hand, had questionable defence going into 2021 and while initially showing promise, they have fallen significantly since about Round 5 or 6, conceding an average of 40 points against top 4 teams and being the only team to lose to the Bulldogs. 

That being said, they are coming off a rare win last week against the Dragons and have a huge opportunity to make in two in a row with their strongest halves partnering of Moylan and Johnson being named, with Josh Hannay finally making the right decision and dropping Chad Townsend. 

Last meeting: Round 14 2020 - Sharks 30 Titans 18

Who to watch: Shaun Johnson was among the best halves in the comp before injuring himself in the penultimate round of 2020. He led the league in try assists over the regular season and Cronulla have struggled without him since, going out in week 1 of the finals and not gaining any cogency in attack so far this year, bar one game against the Cowboys.

He has only played 3 games this year and is yet to chalk up a win, however this weekend will mark his 200th appearance in first grade, and if he can return to his good form the Titans will find it hard to stop the Sharks. 

For the Titans, Moeaki Fotuaika has gone under the radar for most of his career despite making his origin debut last year. He has been a little quiet so far in 2021, however last week against the Bulldogs he showed what he can add to this Titans side when he is given more minutes.

He made 15 runs for a whopping 188 metres (including 57 post contact), while mustering 10 tackle breaks, a line break and a try assist, all while making 39 tackles at 90% efficiency. He is up against a relatively strong Sharks forward pack featuring Rudolf, Talakai and Fifita, and with another strong performance should solidify his Queensland origin credentials. 

The favourite: The Titans are favoured by 2 and a half points against the Sharks on Sunday

My tip: If Chad Townsend had been named, I'd have the Titans winning in a landslide, however the inclusion of Moylan and Johnson will result in a high scoring game that the Sharks will come out on top in. Cronulla by 6.

1. Will Kennedy 2. Connor Tracey 3. Will Chambers 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Braydon Trindall 15. Siosifa Talakai 16. Jack Williams 20. Franklin Pele 19. Billy Magoulias

1. Alexander Brimson 2. Anthony Don 3. Brian Kelly 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Phillip Sami 6. Tanah Boyd 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Mitch Rein 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. David Fifita 13. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 14. Erin Clark 15. Beau Fermor 16. Jaimin Jolliffe 17. Sam McIntyre 18. Esan Marsters

Referees: Chris Sutton; Sideline Officials: Drew Oultram, Belinda Sharpe; Video Referees: Henry Perenara;

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