SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20: Andrew Fifita (R) of the Sharks celebrates with his team mate Jayden Brailey (L) of the Sharks after scoring a try Andrew Fifita during the round 19 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Canberra Raiders at Southern Cross Group Stadium on July 20, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Sharks did their top four chances a world of harm last Thursday night by failing to capitalise on chances in the final moments. A full set of six on the Broncos line saw the Sharks turn in four hit ups, an awkward shift and a dreadful fifth play option.

The Shire club’s inability to create an opportunity to score the match-winning try now sees them sit two competition points behind the fourth place Dragons.

The 12-10 loss also took their points differential to +44, whereas the Dragons, despite a heavy loss to the Roosters, sit pretty with +107.

Unless the Sharks are able to put a side away by 50 points on the same weekend the Dragons cop a heavy loss, they’re going to have to win at least two more games than the Dragons to finish inside the top four.

The Panthers have a slightly better (+68) for and against, but with only 24 points between the two sides, that is a difference that can be made up over a weekend.

Despite copping the raw end of a few unlucky refereeing decisions the Sharks have no one but themselves to blame.

Ricky Leutele could not ground the ball over the line, instead finding the foot of Jamayne Isaako. Jayson Bukuya had a two on none and chose to dummy at first, butchering an easy four pointer. For some reason the Sharks ran four one out hit up plays in the final moments despite the Broncos being out numbered out wide.

Chad Townsend failed to convert a kick from almost in front. Matt Moylan created a three on two and only had to put it through the hands for a try-scoring opportunity, but instead went for the highlight play and gifted the Broncos a four pointer.

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The Sharks will be rightfully kicking themselves as they now have to rely heavily on other results to enable a second bite come finals time. A second bite that their current form says they probably need.

With five games remaining the Sharks need to realistically win four of the games to be any chance of a top four finish.

Given they travel to Melbourne to play the red hot Storm next weekend, it’s safe to say that this Sunday’s clash with the Sea Eagles is a must win for the Sharks. A loss would not only end their top four chances but put them in real danger of an away trip in the first weekend of the finals.

With the Broncos and Warriors hovering, an away trip could be hugely costly.

On paper a Sunday afternoon home game against the struggling Sea Eagles looks a favourable fixture. In reality this is probably the game Sharks fans least want to see in do-or-die circumstances.

To say Manly have the wood over the Sharks as of late is a massive, almost criminal understatement.

The Sharks last beat the Sea Eagles back in 2016 during their record breaking win streak. Before that you have to go back to the 1980’s for the last Sharks victory.

A quick google search will suggest it wasn’t quite that long, for Sharks fans it would feel almost that way.

In 2015, the Sharks had it all to play for in front of a massive home crowd on a beautiful Sunday afternoon (sound familiar). A top four spot could be locked in, gifting the Sharks an all Sydney road trip to the Grand Final. They would have matched up with the Roosters who they had made whipping boys twice that season.

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Manly were done, couldn’t make the eight and were in horrible form.

So of course Manly scored late to break Sharks hearts despite having approximately 0.3% of the motivation of the home side.

The out of sorts Sea Eagles now have only pride to play for. If they play well enough they’ll avoid the wooden spoon. The Sharks on the other hand have a red hot crack at the top four and genuine title-winning aspirations.

A huge, black, white and blue crowd is expected.

The Sharks will welcome back international stars Wade Graham and Josh Dugan.

The home side will be absolutely filthy after letting a golden ticket slip through their hands in Brisbane. Shane Flanagan will have his side fired up and ready to belt a side who are already looking to post-season holidays.

Sounds simple right? Sharks by how many?

History suggests that the $3.25 being offered for a Manly victory is there for the taking.

The Sharks NEED to overcome the hoodoo to put their northern beach rivals away. They NEED to send a message to their fans and the rest of the NRL that they’re not a spent force. They NEED the two competition points against a side who are six points + differential outside finals contention.

We’ll learn a lot about Cronulla’s chances of being anything more than fodder come finals time this Sunday afternoon in the sunshine of the Shire.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Same old story. Wasn’t it a loss to this mob last year that effectively put paid to a top 4 spot? Cronulla should have beaten Brisbane last week without any doubt and will pay dearly for the slip-up. All year sharks fans have been listening to Flanno and Gal in the post match pressers stating that “We must put 80 minutes together” That’s happened maybe twice this entire season and sure it’s also about the number of times they’ve had their first choice full 13 on the park, but it’s getting tired. If it doesn’t happen this weekend, and keep building, then it’ll be 2017 all over again. It’s very difficult to win this gig from outside the top 4 and this year will be no exception. Sharks can’t get 80 minutes together, Penrith are too inconsistent and the Dragons are on their customary end of season slide. The other 3 up there look very hard to beat. It’s now or never for the sharks and unfortunately it’s against their hoodoo side.

    • Absolutely right … it’s now or never unfortunately as a sharks supporter it’s not going to happen … Townsend who I am a fan off needs a senior 5/8 … Moylan will be good but he’s not like Maloney who will take control off the game yet … Holmes is a great fullback in the making I fear flanno will dupe him and graham is our linch pin but unfortunately he has a bad run off injuries…. maybe next year if we leave young Kyle flanno to get a go and Holmes stays at fullback Brailey boys at hooker

  2. v good article . the sharks should’ve would’ve . and with dogs overpowering the droncos tonite . sharks not consistent enough as usual . some of the recruiting is questionale as well . letting ramien go and having duggan . dont get it .

    • At the time blacky think Dugan was at centre and ramien dint think he’d get a run etc that and his daughter is in Newcastle so I guess he took that option …. we should never off bought the walking injury that is Dugan

  3. Hoodoo’s are for superstitious people who more than likely believe in the “stars” hahahahahahahaha. Manly suppose to have a hoodoo on the Roosters at Brookvale but look what happened in that game. Should of been 70-6 but the Chooks relaxed in the 2nd half. Cronulla will beat up Manly Seagirls by 60+

    • Great call champ! Tell me your pick for this weeks Oz Lotto numbers and I’ll make sure I steer well clear.

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