After suffering a heavy defeat against the Newcastle Knights in round 4 the NYC Sharks bounced back in the best possible fashion last weekend in defeating perennial competition heavyweights the New Zealand Warriors.
It was a confidence-boosting win for the young Sharks and a victory that leaves them inside the top eight and poised to consolidate their position when they play Manly this Sunday.
After letting themselves down in the defensive department against the Knights the Sharks were much improved in the Warriors match, keeping the Kiwis in check until leaking a couple of late tries.
This weekend will be no different, with defense the key for a Sharks team sure to be wary of their opponents despite the fact that Manly are anchored to the bottom of the NYC ladder.
Again the Sharks will be looking to the skill players in Valentine Holmes and Fa’amanu Brown to provide the inspiration, with Holmes currently sitting on top of the competition leading point scorers table with 72 from the five matches played.
Along with his spot at the top of the pointscorers, Holmes is second in tries scored with eight and is equal first in terms of line breaks with 11.
But as much as they will depend on the flair of their backline stars, the Sharks also realise the match is likely to be won through the efforts of the forwards, with Kurt Dillon in particular adding plenty of starch to the middle of the ruck against the Warriors.
Dillon was ably assisted by the likes of Jake Lawrence, who has retained his place in the starting side, as well as front row partner Jake Goodwin. Hooker Kurt Drysdale also impressed in the last start win, guiding the team around the field and keeping their opponents guessing with some clever attacking options.
As for Manly, they come into the game on the back of a 36-16 loss to the Wests Tigers, with the team from the northern beaches having won just won game from five so far in 2014.
The Sharks v Manly NYC match will be the first of three games played between the two clubs at Brookvale Oval on Sunday, with the game scheduled to kick off at 10.45pm.