As Sharks coach Shane Flanagan expressed in his weekly media conference early on Friday, “it might not be a must-win game, but it’s getting close to that.”
Which is what the Sharks v Titans clash at Remondis Stadium on Saturday evening represents, a match both teams will be desperate to win to get their 2015 season underway.
“We need to play well and we need to win a footy game,” Flanagan said. “There’s no excuses.”
Inconsistent is a word which possibly best describes the Sharks first three efforts, with the attack producing 20 points against the Raiders, the defence solid in restricting the Broncos to two fortuitous four pointers, before a strong back end performance resulted in three Cronulla tries in Melbourne, albeit when the result was all but decided.
“We’ve put patches together but we haven’t done it consistently throughout the game and week to week,” he said.
“We need to concentrate on what we can do and we just need to win.”
Giving the Sharks perhaps more incentive to notch that first victory of 2015, will be to celebrate four special personal milestones in style, with skipper Paul Gallen captaining the team for the 100th time, lock Chris Heighington playing his 250th game, fullback Michael Gordon his 50th match as a Shark, while youngster Jack Bird is making his NRL debut.
“If they can’t get up for those boys I’m not sure what will motivate them,” Flanagan said, almost challenging his team with his statement.
They won’t have it all their own way however against a Titans squad embroiled in early season controversy off the field, but highly competitive on it in their three outings so far.
While winless, the Titans were unlucky to lose the Tigers by a field goal in round one, and while comprehensively outplayed in Bathurst against the Panthers, were on the wrong side of a controversial refereeing decision in a two-point loss to the Knights.
Now in their second week back from an club-imposed suspension, Greg Bird and Dave Taylor shape as the main dangers this Saturday and should be better for their first games of 2015 last weekend.
The two teams met just once in 2014, way back in round one, with the Titans emerging 18-12 victors on that occasion in a match played at Remondis Stadium.
In all the Sharks and Titans have played 11 times, with the win-loss record slightly in the Sharks favour at six wins to five.
The Sharks lead five-two in matches at the Cronulla home ground.
Saturday also recognises PlayNRL Round, with the Sharks to celebrate Junior League participation with game day displays, activations and activities both pre-match and at half time of the NRL fixture.
The Sharks v Titans NRL match kicks off at 5.30pm, with the NYC at 3.15pm and gates to Remondis Stadium to open at 3.00pm.
For al the game day information, including transport options, go to the Sharks game day pages – CLICK HERE