NRL Magic Round: Titans v Sharks Preview & Betting Tips
Magic Round is here! Let’s kick this off with the Sharkies looking to build on last week’s upset of the year against the battling Titans
Gold Coast Titans v Cronulla Sharks – Suncorp Stadium – 7:50pm
The Titans continue to be hit by an injury curse in 2019, their 28-14 loss away to the Cowboys wasn’t through lack of effort – they just didn’t have the class on the night and by night’s end, their team bared little resemblance to what they started off with.
Their troubles starting after three minutes when veteran fullback Michael Gordon suffered a head knock and wouldn’t return. Talented youngster AJ Brimson entered the game but took time finding his feet, including a sloppy drop off a harmless Cowboys punt. He would eventually get into the game but the Titans were forced to play catch-up against a Cowboys pack who looked re-energised with Jason Taumalolo’s comeback.
Further injuries to Phillip Sami and Tyrone Roberts hindered the Titans rhythm and while a late Justin O’Neill converted try blew the margin out to 13+, Gold Coast remained competitive even if they couldn’t find a way to build on their early second-half momentum. Jai Arrow remains their rock and his eventual absence through Origin will be a massive loss for the Titans. Coach Garth Brennan will be hoping a turn in his club’s horror injury toll happens sooner rather than later.
Cronulla entered their match against the Melbourne Storm also heavily impacted by injury and relying on a raft of inexperienced players coming off a comprehensive loss to Brisbane. Yet the Sharks rolled back the clock with a gutsy 20-18 win looking like it was a performance straight from their 2016 Premiership campaign. The upset was completely deserved – the Sharks were without veterans Wade Graham, Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods and Shaun Johnson and had six players with fewer than 10 NRL games each – and a testament of a side who are playing for their rookie coach John Morris.
The former journeyman cut his coaching teeth in the Sharks’ academy program and his bond with the likes of Bronson Xerri, Jack Williams and Kyle Flanagan – who had arguably his best NRL game in his fledgling career – is proving an invaluable fillip for a side missing so much experience. Josh Dugan was rushed back from injury and although the fullback made errors early on, he made a massive difference with his kick returns, preventing Melbourne from creating a genuine fightback in the second half as they tried chasing the Sharks down. In completing 20 from 20 second half sets, Cronulla showed no matter who they have available this is a club who will dig deep and fight for each other. After a disastrous off-season, the Sharkies have responded strongly and at 4-4 they’re well in the hunt for a top-eight finish.
Key stats: Titans winger Anthony Don has now scored in six straight games, plus has four tries in five overall Suncorp Stadium appearances. The Titans have only won two of their last seven starts against Cronulla. These sides met in round two – Cronulla won 20-6. In every Titans loss in 2019, they have trailed at halftime.
Best bet: Anthony Don anytime try scorer – $1.80*
Value bet: Sharks halftime/fulltime – $2.40*