The Cronulla Sharks have issued a warning ahead of the NRL finals, proving they are the real deal after a convincing 32-22 home win against the Sydney Roosters on Monday night at Remondis Stadium.
After copping a 40-0 hiding against the Roosters just five weeks ago, Cronulla produced their most outstanding half of football this season against the competition leaders, piling on 26 unanswered points by halftime.
The Roosters began to mount a comeback early in the second half with tries to Daniel Tupou and Daniel Mortimer, but ill-discipline by the boys from Bondi allowed the boot of Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney, who kicked eight from eight conversion attempts, to seal the win for the home side.
The win will surely boost confidence in The Shire, cementing the Sharks a top eight spot with the guarantee of a home final.
The possibility of Cronulla finishing in the top four also lingers with two rounds remaining, with the Manly Sea Eagles sitting only three points above them on the table.
However, in order for the Sharks to overtake the Silvertails, they will have to beat the in-form North Queensland Cowboys away from home and the unpredictable Canberra Raiders, and then hope Manly lose their two remaining games against the Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers.
Before this year’s NRL season kicked off, Cronulla were tipped to be genuine premiership contenders. The Sharks recruited well in the off-season with the additions of Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Chris Heighington to the squad, and had a successful pre-season, winning both of their trial matches against the Sea Eagles and the Newcastle Knights.
What is most impressive about the Sharks is the incredible amount of resilience and professionalism the club has shown to shift their focus from the ASADA investigation to playing quality footy.
One cannot help but notice the special bond Cronulla’s playing group have. The Sharks are not a team of individuals, but an individual team striving for the success that was originally predicted for them.
The finals are almost upon us. Beware of a shark attack…