Matt Prior of the Sharks is tackled by the Titans.
Matt Prior of the Sharks is tackled by the Titans. CRAIG GOLDING

Late Titans surge shocks premiers

NEIL Henry rolled the dice and collected his winnings in a game where Jarryd Hayne sent a message to NSW coach Laurie Daley in the Gold Coast's 16-12 win over Cronulla.

Neil Henry made the tough call to drop Kane Elgey ahead of Tyrone Roberts in a game where the Hayne Plane proved he has plenty of rep footy left in him with Origin selection just a few weeks away.

Hayne was awarded the Anzac Medal for player of the match in his best performance since joining the Titans last year but the fullback admits he's still far from being back to full fitness.

"I didn't know I was going to play during the week but just putting in for the boys (made for) a special week," Hayne said post-match.

"I'm still probably one or two weeks away (from 100 per cent).

"Tonight was about getting back and playing 80 minutes.

"It probably wasn't until two or three days out where I said 'I haven't broken down so I'll play'."

The Titans were boosted by the return of Konrad Hurrell, Jarryd Hayne and Kevin Proctor but it wasn't all smooth sailing with the casualty ward slowly refilling due to Chris McQueen and Chris Grevsmuhl picking up injuries.

Playing with confidence after coach Henry backed him to do a job, Roberts repaid the faith early.

Taking the line on, faking to throw it short, the off-contract Roberts sliced in between Paul Gallen and Chad Townsend for the opening try.

In Hayne's third appearance for the season after returning from an ankle injury, the fullback produced a clutch tackle to deny Jayden Brailey midway through the first half.

 

The Sharks are awarded a penalty try after Jayson Bukuya was interfered with.
The Sharks are awarded a penalty try after Jayson Bukuya was interfered with. CRAIG GOLDING

The No.9 finished off the set with a smart grubber to force a repeat set and two minutes later the Sharks struck.

Shifting from right to left through the hands, Ricky Leutele squeezed past Hurrell and by Anthony Don to score the try.

Leading by two, the Titans' momentum stalled after they lost Grevsmuhl to injury.

The former Panther faces quite some time on the sidelines after dislocating his shoulder when the 90-kilo frame of Townsend crashed down on his arm.

Controversy struck in the 31st minute when the home side were awarded a penalty try after Dale Copley tackled Bukuya without the ball as he chased a Townsend grubber.

It was a decision made by the Bunker which had Titans skipper Ryan James fuming.

"The bunker is worth $3 million and they can't guarantee he would've got that ball down," James barked to referee Henry Perenara.

Trailing 10-6 with a minute and a half left in the first half, Hayne jumped into dummy half before delivering a bullet pass to an unmarked Dan Sarginson.

But the Englishman coughed up the ball on the Sharks' line to spoil what would've been the easiest try of his career.

Eight minutes into the second half they lost McQueen after he went for his second HIA of the night after copping the elbow of Valentine Holmes which left him with a busted left eye.

James Maloney pushed the lead out 12-6 courtesy of a penalty goal as Bukuya left the field with a shoulder complaint.

After missing the last five weeks, Hayne returned with a point to prove.

He was in everything and when he darted out of dummy half, he found Leivaha Pulu off his hip to get the Titans back in the game.

A missed goal from Ash Taylor kept the Sharks in front by two and when Don made a length of the field break, panic sunk in and the Titans butchered an opportune chance to claim the lead.

Not that it mattered. In a rabble of a set, Sarginson toed it ahead but when Townsend fumbled the ball, Joe Greenwood gathered possession, popped it for Pulu who reclaimed the lead in a courageous team try.

This time Taylor nailed the kick for a 16-12 lead.

A short kick off went the way of the defending premiers with less than three left on the clock but Don produced the play of the day when he not only cleaned up a Maloney grubber but ran 40 metres across his own in-goal to get back into the field of play.

News Corp Australia


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