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Titans v Sharks: Graham out; Cartwright to halves

This is the type of game that will have almost everyone tipping the Sharks based on their gutsy win over Penrith and Gold Coast's loss to the Cowboys.

But it probably won't be that cut and dried.

The Sharks had their backs against the wall last week and were spurred on by a vocal home crowd. They got the job done but wins don't always make you as hungry and determined as losses, so the challenge this week for the Sharks is pick up where they left off.

That will be easier said than done against a team that has lost two in a row and has aspirations to make the finals. The Titans need to show us if those top eight plans should be taken seriously.

Gold Coast Titans v Cronulla Sharks, 5.30pm Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium

Key match-up: In some games it looks as though Ash Taylor can do anything he wants on a football field, which is why it leaves you scratching your head that he doesn't play at a high level from week to week, although he does have youth on his side. This week he is up against Chad Townsend and the Titans will be counting on a take-charge performance from the 23-year-old halfback.

For the Titans to win: Again, this team's prospects hinge largely on what they get from their hot and cold halves. Taylor needs to make sure the Titans play their own brand of football and avoid getting caught up in how the Sharks want to play.

For the Sharks to win: They can't take their vocal fans on the road, but the Sharks would've taken a lot of confidence out of their win over Penrith and should be eager to prove they have turned the corner. They will be hard to stop on Saturday if Moylan, Josh Dugan and Andrew Fifita play like they did against the Panthers. Wade Graham is also tipped to return.

Titans stat attack: The Titans are a bit of a bogey side for Cronulla, winning five of their past seven meetings with the Sharks. They have won three of their past four home games against the Sharks.

Sharks stat attack: Fifita leads the NRL in off-loads (26) but he has also been penalised a chart-topping 12 times. Moylan's 13 overall errors for the season has him at the top of the negative plays list.

And another thing: Gold Coast prop Jarrod Wallace will chalk up his 100th NRL game after starting his career with the Broncos.

Titans v Sharks - Round 8

Titans: 1 Michael Gordon, 2 Anthony Don, 3 Brendan Elliot, 4 Konrad Hurrell, 5 Phillip Sami, 6 Bryce Cartwright, 7 Ashley Taylor, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James (c), 11 Kevin Proctor, 12 Will Matthews, 13 Jai Arrow

Interchange: 14 Max King, 15 Jack Stockwell, 16 Keegan Hipgrave, 17 Morgan Boyle

The Gold Coast are 1-17. Titans coach Garth Brennan dropped five-eighth Kane Elgey from last week's team beaten by the Cowboys, moving Bryce Cartwright to five-eighth. Morgan Boyle returns on the bench, while winger Tyronne Roberts-Davis has also been dropped. Phillip Sami reverts to wing and Brendan Elliot will play centre.

Sharks: 1 Josh Dugan (c), 2 Edrick Lee, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Valentine Holmes, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita (c), 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Scott Sorensen, 18 Kurt Capewell, 13 Joseph Paulo

Interchange: 14 Jayson Bukuya, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Avagalu Seumanufagai, 17 Kurt Dillion

Wade Graham (hamstring) is out and is now likely to make his comeback next week against Parramatta. Kurt Capewell replaces Graham in the second row. Jayson Bukuya (groin) returns on the bench. Matt Prior will play despite being hospitalised with a virus this week.

Head-to-head: Played 17; Titans 8 wins, Sharks 8 wins, 1 draw
Matches at venue: Played 7; Titans 4 wins, Sharks 2 wins, 1 draw
2017 results: Titans won 16-12 at Southern Cross Group Stadium in round 8 and 30-10 at Cbus Super Stadium in round 19
Points per game: Titans 18.6; Sharks 16.3
Points conceded per game: Titans 28.1; Sharks 19.7
Televised: Live on Fox League

Steve Turner's prediction: The Gold Coast Titans were poor last weekend and the Sharks were brilliant under adversity. The 2016 premiers showed signs of what people have come to expect of them. Their spine fired for the first time in 2018, Andrew Fifita was outstanding and they won without Paul Gallen, Wade Graham and Luke Lewis. The Titans have too many areas in their game to fix and won't have the class to match the visitors. Sharks by 12.

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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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