Sharks v Titans: Five key points

Jarryd Hayne made a triumphant return as the Gold Coast Titans fought back to win 16-12 to hand Cronulla their third loss at home this season.

No turbulence for Hayne Plane

Titans fullback Jarryd Hayne showed no signs of rust in his return from the ankle injury that has kept him sidelined for the past five weeks.

Hayne eased his way into the contest with a steady first half, but took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second stanza to lead his side to victory.

The star custodian threw a trademark cut-out pass to put Anthony Don in space, spectacularly batted a James Maloney penalty kick for touch back into the field of play, he earned a repeat set with a check-side kick across his body and set up Leivaha Pulu's first try with a heads-up shortside raid; all in the second half.

Titans coach Neil Henry was pleased with how his marquee man performed and believes he will only get better with more time on the field.

"They marked him fairly well and he had people on him when he fielded the ball, but he had a couple of good charges into the line," he said.

"He's a big body and he got a few metres for us. He probably hasn't got the metres in his legs to be at his best at the moment, but his talk at the back is good for the boys – that's what they said at half-time. He's an experienced player, so having him out there, the boys appreciated it."

Is Don, is good

Leivaha Pulu's late double might have given the Titans the lead on Saturday night, but it was teammate Anthony Don's scramble that ensured Gold Coast would leave the Shire with the two competition points.

With less than two minutes left on the clock, the Titans winger fielded a James Maloney grubber kick in his own in-goal with a pair of Sharks sniffing around for an error.

Instead of conceding a repeat set, Don tiptoed along the dead-ball line, beat two defenders – including Paul Gallen – before he straightened and dragged another two would-be tacklers into the field of play.

It was a huge play in the context of the game that wasn't lost on Titans skipper Ryan James.

"Me and 'Peatsy' (Nathan Peats) looked at each other when that happened and we just looked each other and said 'that's a massive play'," he said.

"Those things typify those situations in the game. He did his best… he came from the right wing and nearly came out on the left wing and won us the game."

Sharks home woes continue

The Canberra Raiders were the only team to leave Southern Cross Group Stadium with the two competition points last year, but Cronulla's home ground has been anything but a fortress in 2017, with the defending premiers now 1-3 at the venue.

While the Sharks are 4-0 on the road this year, their worrying home form hasn't been lost on coach Shane Flanagan.   

"It's frustrating, especially for our fans that come here every week," he said.

"We haven't been good at home and we need to address it. This has been a fortress for us and we need to get back there."

New rivalry brewing

It doesn't have all the ingredients necessary for a traditional NRL rivalry, but the Sharks and Titans are doing their best to create their own 'Book of Feuds'.  

Saturday night's thriller continued a long line of close matches between the sides, with the past seven meetings all decided by six points or less, including last year's 18-all draw that featured some gamesmanship from Wade Graham at the coin toss. 

The fact the Titans have won three of the past four meetings in Cronulla will only spice things up more when they travel to the Shire in the coming years.

Injury curse continues

They might have welcomed back several stars on Saturday night, but it looks as though the Titans' casualty ward is set to fill up again after a host of players were forced from the field through injury.

Already without Kane Elgey (tight hamstring) the Titans' stocks were further depleted with injuries to Chris Grevsmuhl, Dale Copley, Karl Lawton and Chris McQueen – the latter forced off for two HIA tests. 

"I think Grevsmuhl has dislocated his shoulder and Dale's got a rib injury," Henry said.

"I think Karl Lawton's a bit of a hamstring. Chris McQueen had two head knocks so under the ruling he couldn't come back on." 

The Sharks aren't without their own injury concerns with back-rower Jayson Bukuya seen leaving the ground on crutches and his foot in a moon boot.

 

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