A playmaking masterclass has propelled the Cronulla Sharks to their first victory of the season over a lacklustre Gold Coast Titans outfit.
15,000 fans rocked up to Shark Park on Saturday afternoon to watch an inspired Sharks side blow past the Gold Coast Titans 20 points to 6. Many of the Sharks’ big names stepped up, pouring on twenty unanswered first half points, all but sealing the result before the halftime siren.
It took 21-year-old, Sione Katoa, just twenty minutes to bag a try-scoring double, headlining a day which saw the winger make three line breaks and run for a team-high 209 metres. Despite an ill-disciplined afternoon for Cronulla, ten Sharks cracked 100-run-metres, giving fans a taste of how deep and destructive the squad can be.
Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson steered the ship for a Cronulla side who had four players miss chunks of the game due to injuries and a sin bin. Whilst a brilliant first half attacking display may have left fans smiling, John Morris wouldn’t have been too pleased with his side’s discipline or lack thereof. Cronulla gave away fifteen penalties and completed just 26 of 41 sets, which they will certainly need to improve as the season goes on. Whilst their performance was far-from-perfect, the Sharks will be relieved to get their first win on the board.
Cronulla will not have too much time to revel in their result, with the squad set to do battle with the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday afternoon in Townsville. North Queensland’s last outing ended in a 29-10 loss at the hands of Brisbane. In an even bigger blow for the Cowboys, powerhouse backrower, Jason Taumalolo, will miss the next 6-10 weeks after falling awkwardly in a tackle and damaging his knee. This will be a big boost for Cronulla, who will be looking to celebrate in style, as Paul Gallen’s breaks Andrew Ettingshausen’s record of 328 games for the Cronulla Sharks.
Cowboys’ coach, Paul Green, didn’t hesitate in adjusting his lineup for this weekend’s clash. Te Maire Martin will push back to fullback to make way for youngster, Jake Clifford, in the halves, with Jordan Kahu and Ben Hampton forming a new-look centre pairing. The Sharks will remain unchanged for the third consecutive week, however, Sosaia Feki exited Saturday afternoon’s game with a knee complaint, potentially making way for teen sensation, Bronson Xerri, on the left flank.
Even with Taumalolo missing, the Cowboys still boast a formidable forward pack led by Josh McGuire, Matt Scott and Jordan McLean. Cronulla will certainly have their hands full in the middle and will look to Andrew Fifita, Paul Gallen and Aaron Woods to win the battle in the middle-third of the field. The man Cronulla will have to be on the lookout for is skipper, Michael Morgan. Morgan was very impressive in an opening round win and will be eager to bounce back from last week’s disappointment. The two biggest focuses for Cronulla must be the forward battle and their discipline. If they can dominate in these two areas, they will go a long way towards winning this game.