Saturday is crunch time for the NSW Cup Sharks who face a must-win game against the North Sydney Bears to remain in contention for a finals berth.
Soundly beaten by the Wyong Roos at their last start, the Sharks are now equal in eighth place with the Wyong side and only one point to the good of the Newtown Jets, with a win essential if they hope to get an opportunity to defend their NSW Cup title over the coming weeks.
With the NRL squad depleted by injury the Sharks will again rely on a healthy injection of talent from their NSW Cup partners the Storm, who will supply seven players for the game against the Bears.
While the Sharks sit precariously in eighth place, the Bears, the NSW Cup feeder team for the South Sydney club, have struggled throughout 2014 and sit in last place after registering just two wins in 22 games this year.
The NSWRL has provided it weekly match preview, with the Sharks v Bears clash to take place at North Sydney Oval on Saturday afternoon. Kick off is at 3.00pm.
The defending premiers season hangs by a thread at present as they prepare to head up to Sydney and cross the bridge and take on a Bears side that needs to give their home fans something to take into the off season. The Sharks have dropped three straight entering this one and desperately need the win otherwise they may well find themselves outside the eight by rounds end with a difficult match up against Mounties next weekend. It is difficult to pin point exactly where things have gone wrong for the Sharkies in 2014. There has been some well documented off field dramas at the club, and their depth has certainly been tested due to injuries in the top squad, but to be fair, their line up most weeks could arguably compare to their sides that were dominating the competition just one year ago. We often touched on the difficulties that their relationship with Melbourne can throw up, and while everything fell into place last season, it appears that things just haven’t clicked in season 2014. It would be an understatement to say that Bears season has also never really clicked into gear, but they do need to stand up this weekend, in what is their last home match at North Sydney Oval in 2014, and at least give their fans something to take into the offseason. With a tough road trip to come against the Warriors, this may well be the red and blacks best chance to register win number three for the year.
Win Or Go Home:
The Sharks simply can’t afford to slip up here in a match that they do look heavily favoured to win. But their recent form has been underwhelming to say the least, and you just sense that this match may not be the walk in the park that the Sharks fans would be hoping for. With Wyong and Newtown breathing right down their necks, the Sharks could find themselves outside the eight with a tough trip to tackle Mounties in the final round if they cannot account for the Bears.
The Sharks just need to win. Sharks by 10.
North Sydney Bears Vs Cronulla Sharks
North Sydney Oval, Saturday, August 23
Referee: Daniel Olford
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via www.steelesports.com.au)