NYC match preview - Sharks v Warriors

After wins over the second and third placed teams in consecutive weeks the NYC Sharks have every reason to be heading across to Auckland full of confidence for their match against the Warriors on Saturday.


Following an injury interrupted start to the 2013 season, one which saw them languishing at the bottom of the competition ladder, the Sharks have hit a rich vein of form in recent weeks, with three wins plus a narrow loss away to the Broncos in their last four starts.


A 34-22 victory over the Tigers in round 17, which was their first success in 10 weeks, started the ball rolling, before two more wins, over the Roosters and Panthers, has every team on notice that the Sharks could be a bogey side for the top teams during the run into the finals.


As coach James Shepherd told Big League, the wins have come at the right time for his team during what has been a difficult year.


Its nice to see some smiles on faces rather than after losses, its hard to pick them up, Shepherd said.


And the Sharks had every reason to smile after a 30-8 demolition of the second-placed Panthers, in a game where the under-20 Cronulla side dominated the match almost from the outset.


We only kicked three goals, scored six tries and we had some opportunities that we bombed as well. Im proud of the way we played, Shepherd said of the Panthers victory.


(But) No, I wouldnt say this is our best win of the year. Its one of our better performances.


However while the Sharks are certain to present a challenge to the Warriors on Saturday, the assignment is another difficult one against perhaps the biggest and most physical team in the Holden Cup competition.


The Warriors sneaked past the Melbourne Storm by 20-16 at their last start and due to recent Sharks results are unlikely to be ambushed by the upstart Cronulla team.


With the likes of Michael Morris, Nu Brown and Valentine Holmes playing strongly, as well as the fact that Sharks hooker Michael Lichaa is returning to full fitness and the form which saw him selected for the NSW Under 20s Origin team and the 2012 Junior Kangaroos, the Warriors will need to be on their game to deny the visitors and consolidate their place inside the NYC top four.


Television rescheduling has seen the match moved forward to a 12.40pm kickoff time at Aucklands Mt Smart Stadium (10.40am Sydney time), with the match to be shown live on Fox Sports.