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Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon admits his side will need to improve to match it with the NRL's best teams, despite emerging from an error-riddled win against last-placed Gold Coast with a spot in the top four.
The Sharks grabbed consecutive wins for the first time since rounds four and five with Saturday's 18-10 victory but were anything but convincing in front of a sellout crowd in Coffs Harbour.
They led 10-0 early and looked on course for a blowout win but had to scrap for the two competition points that allowed them to leapfrog Brisbane into fourth place.
Fitzgibbon admitted he sighed with relief when his team won against a tough Titans outfit that defied their ranking to bring a challenge.
"Ultimately we just needed to win and we got there in the end," Fitzgibbon told reporters.
"It wasn't pretty, there's plenty for us to look at, but we can take our two points.
"You look at the table and assume it's a given you're just going to win ... footy's too hard.
"That (Titans side) is a good footy team and it's so hard to get everything right."
The Titans levelled the match at 10-10 before the break but the Sharks scored the only points of the second half in a lacklustre display.
Fitzgibbon was unimpressed with the 15 errors that repeatedly invited the Titans back into the contest.
"We've had periods where we've shown our capabilities and then periods of inconsistency, but we've got a lot more left," he said.
"We think we're hard to defend at times and we let teams off the hook with pressure. And then we defend well at times and we let them off with discipline.
"So we'll keep working on putting those two elements together and mounting more pressure and we've got more gears."
In-form winger Sione Katoa opened the scoring before five-eighth Matt Moylan made it two Sharks' tries in four minutes for 10-0, but a lengthy line break from Beau Fermor to score and a crashing effort from Greg Marzhew had the game tied after 25 minutes.
Moylan produced some magic to create a quick try for Blayke Brailey to reclaim the lead after halftime, while a Nicho Hynes penalty extended the margin to eight points on 58 minutes.
In his final audition before State of Origin game two, NSW aspirant Hynes had a hand in two tries, forced two goal-line dropouts with inch-perfect kicks and was a constant creative factor in the win.
Cronulla found some big metre-eating performances from their backs, led by Katoa (154m), Siosifa Talakai (148m) and Jesse Ramien (136m), while captain Dale Finucane had 85m off the bench in his return from injury.
The Titans side showed plenty of heart but again failed to fire, particularly inside opposition territory, in slumping to 3-12 for the season.
"I'm really feeling for everyone in our club, but I think we've shown how hard we're trying," Titans coach Justin Holbrook told reporters.
"We're just lacking that bit of class or those couple of moments - we just don't get out of our in-goal and then they just get out of their in-goal.
"They're just big, big changing points. There's some hard lessons for us at the minute."
Back at fullback after spending most of the season in the halves, AJ Brimson had some nice touches for the Titans, including his try-assist for Fermor.