Valantine Holmes of the Sharks sprints away to score on day two of the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines rugby league tournament at Eden Park in Auckland on 16 February 2014. Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

Titans exit Auckland Nines

THE iSelect Gold Coast Titans are out of the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines following their 30-14 loss this morning to the Cronulla Sharks.

It was a disappointing exit for the Titans who were out-enthused by the Sharks in a high-scoring game, with the winner to go through to the finals and the loser to watch for the remainder of the day  

Both teams started the day without key players. Luke Douglas came into the Titans squad replacing Dave Taylor, who has a bad cork above his knee. The Sydney side were without injured playmaker Todd Carney.

It took just 44 seconds for former Titans player, Sam Tagataese, to hammer the  first nail into the Titans Nines coffin. His skirting run, that finished with a power surge,  put the first points on the board, with the Daniel Holdsworth conversion from close to touch giving the Sharks an opening 6-0 lead.

The Titans looked sluggish and ill-disciplined in the opening forays and that was evident in the sixth minute when  Fa’amanu Brown scampered from dummy half to slice through some ordinary defence to stretch the score to 10-0.

In the shadows of half time the Sharks were in again with Nathan Gardner taking the Titans on out wide before flicking a sensational pass back inside to Blake Ayshford who scored the Sharks third try, which was converted to give them a 16-0 lead at the break.

The Gold Coast started the second half with much more enthusiasm. On the back of Mark Minichiello and Luke Bailey busts, Minichiello scored.

However thoughts of a Gold Coast comeback were dowsed however when youngster Valentine Holmes  scored a long-range try.

Albert Kelly bought the scoreline back to 20-8 when he scored close to the line. However the Sharks hit straight back through Ricky Leutele.

Minichiello’s  second try, with just two minutes to go, was an indication of what the Gold Coast could offer. Some good footwork and passing from Brad Takairangi resulted in ‘Mini’ crossing for a converted try which bought the Gold Coast back to 24-14.

However the Sharks had the final say when Matt Prior scored a converted try to register the final scoreline at 30-14.