Ash Taylor defies atrocious conditions to steer Titans home over Sharks
Gold Coast Titans halfback Ash Taylor has orchestrated a 30-10 victory over defending NRL premiers Cronulla, mastering atrociously wet conditions at CBus Super Stadium.
The 22-year-old crossed twice and laid on two more tries in Saturday night's rout of the second-placed Sharks, making light of the conditions while others around him struggled to adapt.
Heavy rain fell all afternoon on the Gold Coast and continued as the game began, creating large pools of water that made conventional rugby league near-impossible.
But Taylor rose above it, grubbering with composure for Konrad Hurrell to score in the ninth minute.
The Sharks looked to respond but were twice held up over the line and denied for a third time as players splashed for a loose ball between the uprights.
Taylor brought the score to 8-0 six minutes before the break, slicing through the defence almost untouched from a scrum to the delight of 14,333 rain-soaked fans.
The puddles had disappeared in the second half, but the drier conditions only served to tighten Taylor's grip on the game as he propped and side-stepped from close range to score his second try in the 43rd minute.
He wasn't done there, timing a short ball perfectly to put Kevin Proctor through a gap and extend the lead to 20-0 after a successful conversion in the 48th minute.
Joe Greenwood then finished a terrific team try as the Titans made a mockery of the slippery conditions. And when Patrick Politoni barged over soon after, it was 30-0 with 14 minutes to play.
The Sharks finally opened their account in the 72nd minute on the right edge through Kurt Capewell, and whittled away the deficit with a Sosaia Feki try four minutes later.
The Titans had beaten Cronulla earlier this season in Sydney, but not tasted victory against them at Robina since 2009.
State of Origin five-eighth James Maloney was rested, replaced by NSW teammate Jack Bird in the halves.
Andrew Fifita started off the bench, but Shane Flanagan's men were unable to find an answer as the Titans, sitting 14th at the start of this round, dared to dream of a finals berth.