The worst week in NRL club Cronulla's history ended with an emotional and morale-boosting 12-10 victory over Gold Coast.
As renewed allegations of equine drug use at the club surfaced on Sunday to deepen the doping crisis surrounding the Sharks, the team ground out a tough win in a manner so familiar from 2012.In the end it was a missed Aidan Sezer conversion that was the difference with both sides scoring two tries.
Dave Taylor touched down from an Albert Kelly kick in the 70th minute to peg the Sharks' lead to 12-10, before Sezer hooked his kick wide to the delight of the home crowd who later raucously greeted the fulltime siren.
After the home side had led 6-0 at halftime, David Mead caught a Sezer cross-kick in the 47th minute and the rookie five-eighth converted, from a near identical spot to where he missed the later conversion, for a 6-all scoreline.
Cronulla hit back when Andrew Fifita crashed over in the 55th minute for a converted try, and 12-6 lead, before the scene was set for a grandstand finish.
Skipper Paul Gallen had the nicknames of the four men sacked - football manager Darren Mooney, trainer Mark Noakes, physiotherapist Konrad Schultz and doctor David Givney, plus that of stood down-coach Shane Flanagan - written in texta on the strapping on his right arm.
Gallen, who was asked by the NRL ground manager to remove the tape on his arm, paid tribute to Flanagan after the game.
''It was (a) tough (week). But once you cross that white line, it doesn't matter what happens off the field,'' Gallen told Fox Sports.
''You've got to get out there and do your job, and that's something I said before the game. It's emotion but the emotion is shed after 30 seconds.
''Fortunately we stuck to what Flanno (Flanagan) trained us to do the whole pre-season and that's play tough football.''
The Sharks took the ground to a rousing cheer from the home crowd of 17,541 that stayed vocal throughout the match.
With a gusting breeze at their backs the home side failed to take advantage of the better of field position in the first half.
The Sharks led 6-0 at halftime after Matthew Wright latched onto a Todd Carney kick in the 27th minute and Michael Gordon duly converted.
In a tough contest punctuated with the errors typical of a first round match, the Titans' best opportunity came in the sixth minute when a William Zillman try was called back for a forward pass.
The Sharks' best other tryscoring opportunity came after a Carney 40/20 in the 18th minute before Cronulla spilt the ball in front of the posts 10m out in the next set of six.
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