The Sharks head to the northern beaches on Sunday in search of a much needed win after on the back of three losses in succession.
After going down narrowly to the Knights the Sharks followed up with a heavy defeat at the hands of the Warriors last weekend, leaving them hoping for a quick turnaround in form in a bid to stay in touch with the competition pace-setters.
On paper the Sharks are set to field a strong line up, one with a number of players with NRL experience. In the halves Daniel Holdsworth will partner with Ben Roberts for the first time, while out wide Eric Grothe Jnr, Travis Robinson and Mahe Fonua all boast various levels of first grade experience.
One to keep an eye on will be PNG recruit Mark Mexico who plays his first game in Sharks colours after joining the club earlier this week.
Following is a weekly match preview as prepared by NSWRL.com’s Brad Preston.
Summary: The Sharks have lost three games in a row for the first time since early in the 2012 season and will head to Brooky to face a desperate Manly side who are still searching for their first win of 2014.
Some close calls of late will give Manly fans some genuine belief that they can get the job done here against a Sharks side that is clearly down on confidence at present.
When you cast your eyes across the Sharks roster, they certainly don’t lack for talent, but unlike last year when they swept all before them, the chemistry between a number of new recruits just doesn’t appear to be there just yet.
On the flipside, Manly’s chemistry has clicked into gear somewhat in recent rounds but they just keep getting pipped at the post. The form of new recruit Manaia Rudolph has been encouraging and he will continue to grow in confidence the more he plays with his new team mates.
The inclusion of NRL regulars such as Cheyse Blair and Tom Symonds will have also given this Manly side a massive confidence boost.
Matt Prior has been named at lock here for the Sharks and they will also debut their midweek signing from the PNG Hunters, Mark Mexico. Our spies up north tell us Mexico has been in top form in the Intrust Super Cup, so it will be interesting to monitor his form over the coming weeks.
So close they can taste it: It has been a case of so close yet so far away in recent weeks for the Sea Eagles.
A late Ben Jones try and Sandow conversion cost them a win against Wenty a few weeks ago, and then a last second Blake Austin field goal cost them at least a point against the Tigers last week.
There is little doubt that the Sea Eagles are playing much better now than they were during their opening two fixtures when they were beaten by a combined 62 points by Mounties and Canterbury. But close losses rarely see you advance up the ladder, so look for Manly to go all out here at home against the Sharks in search of win number one.
Prediction: A Manly win wouldn’t surprise but will give the Sharks another chance. Sharks by 4.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Vs Cronulla Sharks
Brookvale Oval, Sunday, April 13
Referee: Luke Phillips
Broadcast: NSWRL Match Centre coverage available via NSWRL.com.au