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Sharks put away stubborn Titans in NRL

NZN 10/04/2016 By Matt Encarnacion

Cronulla survived a Greg Bird-led onslaught to record a gutsy 23-18 win over Gold Coast, moving them into the NRL top four.

However the victory was marred by an incident immediately after the siren, when Chris Heighington's son was caught under a maintenance vehicle that forced Sharks players to come to his aid.

Rocco, three, is believed to be okay and went home with his family.

Bird was a man on a mission against his former club, rubbing Sharks No.7 James Maloney out of the match with a brutal hit in the first half that landed him on report.

He almost ended Ben Barba's afternoon early too, hitting him just as he retrieved a bomb.

"He flies close to the wind and he plays as hard as anyone," Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said.

But, in front of a crowd of 11,752 at Southern Cross Group Stadium and despite being down to 15 men for the entire second half, the Sharks pulled out all the right stops at the death.

First Chad Townsend broke a 18-all deadlock with a field goal in the 69th minute before Valentine Holmes sealed the 23-18 win with a try two minutes later.

Sharks prop Andrew Fifita was arguably his side's best, running 116 metres in the second half alone and scoring a crucial try that helped them regain the lead.

"We only had 15 out there, we lost one (Maloney) for the majority of the game and in an important position in our halves, too," Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said.

"I had Gerard Beale there on the bench and the disruption wasn't great - it probably disrupted our kicking game if anything. But they handled it in the end."

Titans coach Neil Henry rued Ben Barba's questionable 90-metre try in the first half, where Maloney appeared to have knocked-on in the build-up.

Henry was also angered by the bunker's decision to overturn a Fifita turnover late in the match.

"That is a big turning point because they went down and scored," he said.

The victory lifts the Sharks to equal second on the NRL ladder alongside three other teams, while the Titans remain equal sixth but just outside the top eight.

Titans centre Nene Macdonald was also put on report for a crusher tackle on Wade Graham.

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