Here are the final details ...
CRONULLA 12 (A Fifita M Wright tries M Gordon 2 goals) bt GOLD COAST 10 (D Mead D Taylor tries A Sezer goal) at Sharks Stadium. Crowd: 17,541.
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How close Aidan Sezer came to taking this game into golden-point extra time. He just didn't read that breeze as well as Michael Gordon. That's why they call it home ground advantage.
Several players caught the eye on both sides, such as the lively Albert Kelly and Sezer, who will only get better for the Titans, while Andrew Fifita and Jeff Robson had big games for the Sharks alongside the little maestro Todd Carney. But we still can't go past Luke Bailey's juggling act for the highlights reel. He even shocked himself.
Phew, it's all over and the Sharks fans are singing. They'll be partying here tonight. We saw two very evenly matched if a little rusty sides throw everything at each other, including a lot of bombs to varying effect. The Sharks will lap this one up in a week when they haven't had much if anything to cheer let alone smile about. The Titans for their part won't be discourage after coming to a tough venue in the circumstances and pushing the home side right to the wire.
Penalty. Anthony Tupou is pinged for stopping the ball from Aidan Sezer. The siren has gone and the Titans are kicking for touch. How are the fingernails? No they run it and David Mead can't gather then chip and it's all over. So close. Sharks 12-10!
Jeff Robson chimes in with an inch-perfect touch finder on the last and the Titans stop the clock for the scrum with seconds remaining.
Aidan Sezer makes a rare break in the context of this game. A big call as Jamal Idris' miracle flick wide from a long cut-out is ruled forward, thwarting the Titans's chance to pinch victory.
It's Luke on Luke as Douglas roars up and nails Lewis and hurts the Sharks enforcer in the process.
Greg Bird throws a wild pass that goes to ground and is showing some claret from one eye. Blood bin anyone? Let-off for the Sharks.
Any suggestions for man of the match? Todd Carney would have to be up there.
From Paul Suttor in the peanut gallery: Should Ricky Leuteli's nickname be Bal?
We're also looking for some suggestions for Aiden Sezer? Julius perhaps?
Dave Taylor is involved again just after coming on, but his last-ditch pass goes forward and out. He could do some damage to the tiring Sharks defence in these last few minutes.
In the lead-up to that try earlier, Jamal Idris came screaming for a pass that didn't arrive and pulled up a bit proppy.
Try! Dave Taylor collects the rebound from David Mead as Al Kelly bombs Michael Gordon's corner. The ref gives it but goes upstairs and gets the green light. Aidan Sezer hooks his conversion from wide out and misses. Sharks 12-10. Can they hang on?
Greg Bird gets a miracle pass away off the ground as the Sharks begin to open up near their line but Al Kelly loses his footing. the ensuing grubber is too deep and the tiring Sharks can hit it out.
Aidan Sezer chips bravely under pressure to the blind corner on the last with bodies falling everywhere, the Sharks juggle and get out of jail.
The impressive Titans half Al kelly hoists a bomb but Beau Ryan takes it safely under pressure and the Sharks push into the Titans half. the Sharks are winning the kicking duel.
A Todd Carney cut-out almost puts Jonathan Wright over in the corner. He thinks he's scored but replays show he put a foot on the sideline in grounding. A great try-saving tackle by David Mead when he looked home for all money.
No bomb for once as Jeff Robson kicks deep into touch on the last and the Titans have a scrum feed. But Andrew Fifita forces a mistake in the tackle in the ensuing set and the Sharks can come again.
Big Jamal Idris cops a bell ringer from Wade Graham and the Sharks wrap up Aidan Sezer before he can kick on the last.
There's no respite as though as Jeff Robson knocks on in the Sharks half and the home side are on the back foot immediately.
Michael Gordon can't miss the conversion close in and the Sharks go 12-6 ahead after a slow start to the half.
A lookaway pass from Todd Carney almost results in a try only for Andrew Fifita to stroll through on a quick play-the-ball up the middle. Sharks 10-6
Andrew Fifita almost busts through the Titans line and Jeff Robson grubbers on the last but it's gobbled up over the line by the Titans for another drop-out. The Sharks on the attack again. They're testing the Titans' mettle now.
Aidan Sezer bombs deep on the last for the Titans but Michael Gordon collects ccomfortably. The Sharks bomb and Luke Lewis snaps up the bounce but the offload hits a Titan and the Sharks miss a try-scoring opportunity. They get a drop-out and another set.
David Mead flies high for an Aidan Sezer bomb on the last and beats Matt Wright to the punch. The Sharks look flat and Ryan James almost carried half the pack over the line in the build-up. Sezer converts and it's all locked up at 6-6.
Todd Carney puts a banana through at the Titans sticks but it's collected by Kevin Gordon who in turn is colected by Luke Lewis, very keen for work. Ryan James almost breaks through for the Titans as gaps opne up in the Sharks line but the final pass goes to ground and is knocked on by the Sharks. A big let-off there again foer the home side. with the line begging.
The Sharks can't make much ground and kick deep. Dave Taylor has a head of steam looks for an offload that doesn't materialise. A Titans bomb goes to deep and is lapped up by the Sharks.
We're back on with the Sharks to restart. Michael Gordon goes flat and deep and the Titans hit it up the middle through Luke 'Pele' Bailey with his fetching red beard.
Try time ... Matthew Wright celebrates scoring the Sharks' first try of the season. Photo: Getty Images
And the try celebration for the Sharks.
Cop that ... Albert Kelly of the Titans tackles Paul Gallen of the Sharks. Photo: Getty Images
Here are a couple of pix from the first half while we suck down the oranges.
Half-time. The Titans spread it wide to Kevin Gordon but there's no way through the Sharks defence and the home side go the break a converted try in front in what has been an entertaining, attacking half marked by some superb kicking from Todd Carney and some less than superb passing from both sides. It's tight but the Sharks look most likely. The Titans have had their moments but completion is their biggest problem. Looking forward to the second half after that one fairly flew by. Like a falcon.
Penalty. Dave Taylor has a bullocking run and is hog tied in the tackle but this ain't the rodeo and the Sharks are pinged in a dangerous area. The Titans go wide but a hail mary pass go to the touchie and the Shark get a let-off. Sharks get a penalty off the ensuing scrum. Chris Heighington spills the ball in a tackle deep in Titans half and the visitors have it back.
Big Luke Bailey shows off his soccer juggling skills on the last for the Titans. Amazing! Not in the playbook that one!
Todd Carney is pulling the strings beautifully for the Sharks. Another forward pass is not picked up this time, and Carney bombs it centrral but everyone misses it and it bounces dead. Titans need a full set of six badly, and they manage one only for a nothing kick from Beau Falloon to hand it back to the Sharks under little pressure.
Andrew Fifita almost busts through for the Sharks then Todd Carney goes to the air early but the Sharks can't bat it back, and the Titans have the ball.
Michael Gordon bends the conversion from wide out back inside the sticks. 6-0 Sharks
TRY! Matthew Wright goes up for a Todd Carney cross-field bomb and comes down with the ball from a pack with a one-handed touchdown. Carney is really finding his range with the boot. 4-0 Sharks
Stink! Well almost. Matt Srama's chip is collected on the last and the Sharks burst out of their half. Aiden Sezer tackles a man withouth the ball and in penalised. Sharks have it attack deep in Titans territory.
Yet another forward pass - just - from the Sharks. Signs of early season rust on both sides. Dave Taylor is on and has a fair old beard on as if he wasn't frightening enough.
Titans half Al Kelly puts up a bomb on the last and follows up to cut Michael Gordon's legs off on his own line. Sharks back with the ball in the own haf and don't waste time kicking deep. Big Dave Taylor about to make his debut for the Titans ...
The Titans defence holds firm as a forward pass between forwards undoes all the Sharks' good build-up work.
40-20! Todd Carney puts one on a dime to give the Sharks a chance to break the deadlock.
Todd Carney goes to the air again and cops another hit. Jamal Idris takes the ball but is has no momentum and is wrapped up short of the line.
Titans hoist a bomb but a falcon to Brad Takirangi results in an accidental offside. First falcon of the season? Sharks kick high as well but Titans show composure and launch a raid down the right wing into Sharks territory.
Luke Lewis is causing some damage up the middle for the Sharks. Todd Carney kicks down the line but only finds touch and cops a late-ish one from Brad Takirangi for his trouble.
Todd Carney grubbers but it's safely scooped up by Wiliam Zillman and the Titans have another set.
The Titans fail to complete another set and the Sharks are back in their half. Ball retention could cost the visitors. The Sharks keep attacking the Titans' right edge despite the imposing presence of Jamal Idris. A cross-field kick to the opposite wing is safely swatted into touch, and a Titans drop out.
Intercept! The Titans' attack is thwarted when a pass loops up and is snapped up. Sharks back on the attack. End to end at the moment, just how we like it. In the end Andrew Fifita's grubber goes dead and the Titans to restart.
William Zillman slices through and crosses for the Titans but the inside ball is ruled fto have gone forward - just. Sharks get off the hook. Lovely move by the Titans with a dummy run and cut-out.
Todd Carney puts up a strange wobbler on the last but the Sharks can't capitalise and the Titans make it back into the field of play. The Sharks are then pinged for slowing the play-the-ball to square the ledger.
Paul Gallen goes blind side but is wrapped up and no kick on the final tackle as the Titans keep it tight on their line. The Titans lose possession after a Malachi crunch and the Sharks are back on the attack. Promising early signs.
Penalty to the Sharks after the Titans kick off. Interference in the play the ball. They punch up into the Titans half.
A big cheer for the Sharks from a packed house. Music to their ears no doubt after what they've been hearing all week.
It’s a balmy 24 degrees at Shark Park with a warm nor’easter blowing. Perfect conditions for Sunday evening football. You have to feel for the Sharks players at the centre of the doping scandal, with no coach, staff sackings and now salary cap rorting claims. You also have to feel for the Titans who could be walking into an ambush full of Sharks players with a lot of pent-up tension ready to unleash on their opponents. We’re about to find out ...
Sharks Stadium, Sydney, Sunday 6.30pm (AEDT)
Last meeting: Round 14 2012 - Sharks 22 bt Titans 12 at Toyota Stadium
Head-to-head: Sharks 13 Titans 1
Referees: Ashley Klein, Phil Haines
TV: FoxSports 1, live
Phil Mitchell's preview: The form guide for this match was turned on its head with the announcement on Wednesday that a host of Sharks players were set to be stood down for using performance-enhancing substances in 2011. Consequently all betting on the game was suspended. The news is a bitter blow for Sharks fans, who had high hopes for their team’s prospects this season following the recruitment of Luke Lewis, Beau Ryan, Chris Heighington and Jonathan Wright. This development has all but burst their bubble.
Even if the Sharks are allowed to field a full-strength team on Sunday evening, they wouldn't be human if their minds weren't elsewhere. As for the Titans, coach John Cartwright will have his charges primed for this match, regardless of which Sharks teams runs out. Two points are two points, after all.
Late Mail: The make-up of the Sharks' line-up could change dramatically as a result of ASADA investigations by kick-off on Sunday. If they get through the weekend unscathed, Todd Carney is poised to play after recovering from a ruptured Achilles. Luke O'Dwyer or Ryan James will miss out for the Titans.
AAP writes: With the Australian Crime Commission report casting a pall over the opening round of the NRL competition, the Sharks, who have reportedly come under the most scrutiny in the report, will welcome the start of onfield action.
A star-studded outfit featuring high-profile recruits Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Beau Ryan should have too much class for a Titans side who traditionally struggle away from home and have rookie halves in Aidan Sezer and Albert Kelly.
Key: Superstar Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney has plenty more to work with now than he did last season. Cronulla look to have plenty of points in them and Carney is just the man to organise that.
SHARKS: Michael Gordon, Jonathan Wright, Ricky Leutele, Matthew Wright, Beau Ryan, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Andrew Fifita, Isaac De Gois, Ben Ross, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen (capt). Interchange: Chris Heighington, Jon Green, John Morris, Anthony Tupou, Jayson Bukuya, Mark Taufua, Chad Townsend (three to be omitted)
TITANS: William Zillman, Kevin Gordon, Brad Takairangi, Jamal Idris, David Mead, Aidan Sezer, Albert Kelly, Luke Douglas, Matt Srama, Nate Myles, Greg Bird, Ben Ridge, Ashley Harrison. Interchange: Dave Taylor, Luke Bailey, Ryan James, Beau Falloon, Luke O’Dwyer (one to be omitted)