Sharks Look To Bite Back At Critics

Source: Getty Images/dailytelegraph.com.au
Under fire skipper Paul Gallen will lead the Sharks against the Titans. Source: Getty Images/dailytelegraph.com.au
Last 5 Meetings

Round 14 2012 – Cronulla Sharks 22 d Gold Coast Titans 12 at Toyota Stadium
Round 22 2011 – Gold Coast Titans 20 d Cronulla Sharks 16 at Toyota Stadium
Round 16 2011 – Cronulla Stadium 36 d Gold Coast Titans 12 at Skilled Stadium
Round 25 2010 – Cronulla Sharks 30 d Gold Coast Titans 16 at Toyota Stadium
Round 24 2009 – Gold Coast Titans 20 d Cronulla Sharks 10 at Skilled Stadium

Despite recruiting tremendously well for the 2012 NRL season, the Sharks  have been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week, with the club being investigated by ASADA for taking performance enhancing drugs. While it seems highly unlikely that any players will miss the match through any sort of sanctions, there is no doubt that the whole saga will have affected everyone at the club and how they respond will go a long way to determining the outcome of this match. Big name signings Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Beau Ryan all start, as does former Bulldogs back Jonathan Wright. Perhaps the best indication of the strength in depth at Cronulla this year is the fact that English international Chris Heighington will only be coming off the bench in his first NRL match since joining the club from the Tigers.

The Titans  are set to unleash their big signing from the bench, with Queensland State of Origin representative Dave Taylor to come off the bench as an impact player, at least initially for the Gold Coast. With Scott Prince having moved up the M1 to Brisbane, former Sharks bad boy Albert Kelly gets first crack at the vacant number seven jersey, while Nate Myles and Greg Bird will captain the side.

1st Tryscorer – The Sharks back three are all making their debut for the club against the Titans and are capable of getting across the scoreline, but Michael Gordon  could prove to be the most prolific. Prior to being restricted by injury in 2011 and 2012, he was the leading points scorer in the NRL in crossed got 16 four pointers for the Panthers in 2010.

Like Gordon, Titans winger David Mead  is a tryscoring machine but has been hampered by hampered by injury in recent times. He has been the clubs leading tryscorer in each of the past two seasons and probably remains its most dangerous finisher.

Prediction – Although the Sharks appear to have a much better side than the Titans on paper, they may not have their minds on the job with the threat of players being suspended hanging over their heads. Cronulla has won just one of its past five home matches, while six of the Titans wins in 2012 were away from the Coast and they could well score the first big upset of the season. Gold Coast Titans 1-12

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