Sharks down Titans with power of one
CRONULLA halfback Chad Townsend subjected the Titans to more heartbreak, snapping a last-minute field-goal to consign luckless Gold Coast to their third consecutive defeat.
Queensland's No. 1 ranked side just three weeks ago, the Titans could finish the weekend in the bottom four after the cool-headed Townsend kicked two field goals to edge the Sharks home 10-9 in a Cbus Super Stadium thriller.
Trailing 9-2 at halftime, the Titans came alive after the break and looked to be finishing stronger when halfback Ash Taylor snapped a 77th minute field goal to level scores at 9-all.
But with golden point beckoning, rival No. 7 Townsend had the last laugh, calmly slotting a one-pointer with 90 seconds remaining to plunge the dagger into the Titans.
Townsend was also the Titans' nemesis in the first half, landing his first one-pointer just seconds before the hooter to give the Sharks a seven-point lead at the break.
Before 12,713 fans, the Titans' commitment was encapsulated by lock Jai Arrow, who was the best player on the park, but they lacked the red-zone execution to capitalise on their midfield energy.
"It was disappointing to work so hard (and not win)," Titans coach Garth Brennan said.
"Defensively, it was our best effort of the season. They had some strike, three internationals in their team, so we took some steps forward in defence.
"We created some opportunities, but we just didn't take them when they were there."
Brennan now has a big decision to make with his halves. While Taylor tried hard, five-eighth partner Bryce Cartwright never looked comfortable in the No. 6 jumper as the pair were outpointed by Cronulla's Townsend-Matt Moylan alliance.
The Titans were dogged in the opening quarter, but as fatigue started to set in, the gaps around the rucks opened up and the Sharks seized the ascendancy.
Cronulla hooker Jayden Brailey ran amok as the Titans began to lose control in midfield.
Soon, the Titans' ninth-minute penalty goal to Michael Gordon was trumped by two Cronulla tries to Valentine Holmes (11th minute) and Edrick Lee (33rd minute) that illustrated Gold Coast's passiveness without the ball.
The Titans only aided Cronulla's surge.
Their sloppy first-half completion rate of 69 per cent forced the Titans to make an extra 54 tackles, putting pressure on a defensive line that cracked again when Lee finished a backline shift.
In between Cronulla's two tries and Townsend's clever 39th minute field goal for a 9-2 halftime lead, Gold Coast's attack was pedestrian.
The Titans lifted their game in the second half. Surprise, surprise, they controlled the ball and rocked the Sharks when Mitch Rein burrowed over from dummy-half in the 44th minute to whittle the deficit to 9-8.
The last quarter became a battle of wills. Taylor gave the Titans hope, but Townsend stepped up with the Power of One to give Cronulla bragging rights.