The Sharks were in an arm wrestle for the opening 40 minutes on the Gold Coast before surging away from the Titans, who were forced to defend their line for most of the contest in wet conditions.
Cronulla's attack hit its straps after half-time with three tries in quick succession setting up an 18-point lead before the Titans hit back with two of their own to set up a grandstand finish.
However, a field goal to Nicho Hynes with less than a minute on the clock sealed the win and got the Sharks back in the winner's circle after a shock loss to Canberra in Magic Round.
NRL debutant Lachlan Miller was impressive in his maiden game in first grade, running for a length of the field try, while Hynes' return to the halves had a ripple effect on the side.
For the Titans, prop Jarrod Wallace was among the side's best with a double but spilt a ball late to kill off any chance of a golden point finish.
Fullback Jayden Campbell tried hard at the back but overall Justin Holbrook's men struggled for enough field position in the loss.
- Former rugby sevens Olympian Lachlan Miller made his NRL debut for the Sharks with Nicho Hynes moving back to halfback.
- Miller finished the match with a try, 201 metres and 10 tackle busts.
- The Titans struck first through Jarrod Wallace, who ran a nice line off AJ Brimson to crash over next to the posts.
- Cronulla enjoyed 59% possession and territory but could only break the Titans' line once in the opening 40 minutes through Connor Tracey.
- A three-try blitz started by Nicho Hynes, who finished off a team effort before sending Ronaldo Mulitalo over set up an 18-6 lead.
- Miller's effort extended the lead before the Titans hit back with two tries to remain alive in the contest.
- Titans prop Jarrod Wallace scored the second double of his career to keep the home side in the game late in the contest.
- A try to Esan Marsters put the home side to within six with three minutes left but the Sharks managed to hang on.
- Sharks forward Toby Rudolf was placed on report for a crusher tackle.
- Phil Sami picked up a knee injury in the 73rd minute in a setback for the Titans winger.
Play of the game
Former rugby sevens star Lachlan Miller wouldn't be used to defusing high kicks and got tested by the Titans on a few occasions in the torrential conditions. He allowed the first to bounce before doing the same with another in the second. However, his 70-metre effort lit up Cbus Super Stadium and capped a memorable NRL debut.
What they said
"I was really happy with the first half. I thought one small defensive lapse but we had decent control of field position which is something we haven't done for a few weeks. We took our opportunities [in the second half]. Lachy is electric on his feet. It hasn't stopped raining since we've been here but thankfully it was firm under foot so he could use his footwork. He's very elusive and a really good person, really popular. I'll be a brave man not to pick Will but Lachy has showed he's capable and he's got utility value." - Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
"We're back to a few rounds earlier in the year where we're not stopping momentum when it's not going our way. Three quick tries and then we're trying to chase a game in tough conditions and fall short. That's the disappointing part, we leak one but have to do something about it then instead of leaking three. We half compete on a kick and then they run the length of the field. It cost us, just little lapses of concentration." - Titans coach Justin Holbrook.
The Titans are in for a short five-turnaround before heading up the road to Suncorp Stadium for a clash against big brother Brisbane, who are looking to win their sixth consecutive and remain in the top four.
Influential Titans forward David Fifita could be available to take on his former club.
Cronulla will have six days to get ready for a clash against the Roosters at PointsBet Stadium. The Sharks will welcome back Will Kennedy from suspension while Franklin Pele is also a chance to return.
Story first published on NRL.com