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Schick Hydro Preview: Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Saturday, 7.40pm

Thousands of years have passed since the Greeks constructed a massive wooden horse and left it out the front of the gates to Troy as a way of getting under the guard of the Trojans but Titans coach Neil Henry may require similarly devious methods to prise open a Sharks defence that has not yielded in their past 169 minutes of football.

It's the first time since 1994 that the Sharks have proven so miserly when it comes to allowing opposition players into their own in-goal and it's fuelling a growing belief that they have the team and tenacity to deliver a rare repeat of last season's premiership victory.

As it was last year, the key to Cronulla's winning start to 2017 is continuity of personnel, a luxury a decimated Titans team could only dream of.

While 12 players named by Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan this week have played every game so far this season (including their two halves and entire starting forward pack), just six Titans are yet to miss a game in 2017 with the club using a total of 28 players compared to the Sharks' 22.

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the Titans who could welcome back Jarryd Hayne, Kevin Proctor, Konrad Hurrell and Joe Greenwood this weekend, all of whom trained strongly at their major session of the week on Wednesday.

Hayne hasn't played since suffering an ankle injury in Round 2 against the Knights but with the prospect of finals football looking further and further away with each loss that mounts it's time for the Titans to go all-in and see how the cards fall.

While Hayne looks likely to play both Hurrell and Proctor have been described as "touch and go" by Neil Henry with Chris Grevsmuhl not expected to recover in time from a groin injury he sustained in last week's loss to the Broncos.

‌Why the Sharks can win: "Are the Sharks capable of going back-to-back? That defence is telling us yes!" Matt Elliott's breakdown this week of Cronulla's effort to hold both the Storm and Panthers try-less in consecutive weeks highlights a belief in their defence that the Titans will find hard to crack. It's been 169 minutes since the Sharks last conceded a try and with the second-best differential in the NRL they have also been able to pile on the points. The 20-minute period after half-time is the real danger zone for the Titans; Cronulla have scored 11 of their 24 tries to date just after oranges.


Why the Titans can win: Despite the challenge of breaking down a Sharks defence that has proven impenetrable in recent weeks the Titans can at least head to enemy territory confident in the attacking weaponry at their disposal. Despite their ever-changing line-up and lowly position on the ladder the Titans have scored four more tries than the Sharks through seven rounds and have the prospect of welcoming Jarryd Hayne and Konrad Hurrell back to the fold. If they can start as they did against Brisbane (up 12-0 after 16 minutes) they could have enough points in them to keep the hungry Sharks at bay.


History: Played 15; Sharks 8; Titans 6; Drawn 1. The Sharks have won four of the past seven meetings between these teams but the Titans did inflict a defeat of sorts last year when they brought Cronulla's 15-game winning streak to an end with an 18-all draw on the Gold Coast. Although the Titans have won two of their past three games at Southern Cross Group Stadium their overall record is just three wins from nine appearances. The past four matches between the Sharks and Titans at Cronulla have been decided by a margin of six points or less.

What are the odds: Sharks $1.27, Titans $4.00. The Sharks have been included in most people's multis for the round, with 89 per cent of money bet on the game going on the home side according to Sportsbet. Cronulla 13-plus is the most popular winning margin and there's even more support for the Sharks at the line, where they're conceding 10 points start. Latest odds at

Match officials: Referee: Henry Perenara; Assistant Referee: Chris James; Touch Judges: Rickey Mcfarlane and Russell Turner; Review Official: Ben Galea; Senior RO: Jared Maxwell.

Televised: Fox Sports – Live from 7pm. predicts: The Titans may have enjoyed success in Cronulla in recent years but they are a team desperate to generate momentum while the Sharks are sitting high on a wave that is building into a tsunami. The inclusion of Hayne after six weeks out has the potential to unsettle whatever combinations Gold Coast have established; not an issue for the Sharks who have 12 players who have played every game so far this season. The Titans need the two competition points but they'll have to wait another week to get it. Sharks by 10 points.


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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